TAVERNIER, Jean Baptiste (1669 baron d’Aubonne). Paris 1605 — Moscow 1689. French Jeweller and Traveller in India. Son of Gabriel T., a Huguenot merchant and geographer. Early travels in England, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy and Hungary. Also worked as guide and translator as he had learned several European languages. He made six travels to Asia: I. 1631 to Constantinople and Persia. II. 1638 Marseille–Alexandretta–Aleppo–Isfahan (May 1639) and in winter 1641 to India (Dacca, Agra, Surat, Burhampur, Ahmedabad, Goa, Golconda, no details known, but visited the diamond mines) and back to France. III. 1643 from Paris, 1645 arrived in India and spent three years there, 1648 from Goa to Batavia and 1649 in Dutch ship via Cape to Europe. IV. 1652 by land to Bandar Abbas, in July 1652 Masulipatam, then St. Thomé–Golconda–Surat–Ahmedabad, etc., in Dutch ship from Surat to Bandar Abbas and 1655 to Paris. V. 1657 from Paris to Italy and again by land to Isfahan. Remained there until 1659 (as India was too troubled during the illness of Shah Jahan), then to South India and back home. VI. 1663 via Tabriz to Isfahan, where he worked as court jeweller to the Shah, in 1665 to Surat, then Burhanpur–Gwalior–Agra–Jahanabad (met Aurangzeb in fall 1665), together with Bernier to Allahabad–Benares–Patna–Bengal, back alone Dacca–Patna–Agra–Surat (met Thevenot in November 1666), in winter 1667 to Bandar Abbas, where met Chardin and in fall 1668 to Paris. Knighted 1669 he bought the manor of Aubonne near Geneva and lived as wealthy private writing his famous travel account which shows him as a keen observer (although he knew not the languages) and is thus an important source fo the period. As Huguenot, he soon met difficulties because of the religious policy of Louis XIV. In 1684 he visited Brandenburg, then sold his manor and settled in Paris. In 1687 he moved to Switzerland and finally via Denmark to Russia. It is claimed that he still planned a new travel to Persia and India. Married 1662 Madeleine Gosse.
Publications: Nouvelle relation du serrail du Grand-Seigneur. P. 1675.
– Les six voyages de J. B. Taviernier. 1-2. P. 1676 and many editions, English 1677, new transl. by V. Ball. 1-2. 1889, also in German, Dutch and Italian.
– Recueil de Plusieurs Relations. P. 1679.
Sources: *Ch. Joret, J.-B.T. d’aprés des Documents Nouveaux. P. 1886; Oaten 1909, 185-192; L. Valensi, D.O.L.F. 916f.; Wikipedia with two portraits.
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