Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pangolin, Part 2

Here is the second of two translations of  texts about the pangolin (you can find the first one here).  This one is by Jacobus Bontius.  Thanks to Natalie Lawrence for the following introduction to him:

Jacob de Bondt (Jacobus Bontius) was a Dutch East India Company official, living in Java in the early seventeenth century. He produced a great deal of material on the medicines and nature of the region, collected himself and from native informants. The Historia naturalis et medica Indiae orientalis was published posthumously by Willem Piso from de Bondt's previous publications and manuscripts.

The pangolin here is obviously an animal that de Bondt encountered himself, because he relies very little on Clusius's description (see Part I), but produces an entirely new one from a specimen he may have possessed. The very strange and boundary-crossing nature of the animal seems to have made it difficult to place in relation to other creatures, it is both a lizard and an anteater, insect and mammal, inscrutably armoured.

As always, we present the Latin first, followed by our translation.  Please let us have any comments, suggestions or alternative translations via the comments box below!

Historia naturalis et medica Indiae orientalis
Jacob de Bondt, 1658
(In Willem Piso's De Indiae utriusque re naturali et medica libri Quatuordecim), p.60-61

Appendix. De Lacerto Indico, Squamoso

Admirabilis hujus exenterati Lacerti iconem, quam exhibeo, ejusdem speciei, sed non ejusdem magnitudinis, est, cujus Carol. Clusius exuvium in exoticis dedit. In Insulae Tajoán silvis frequens est. Nomen ejus vernaculum hactenus nobis incognitum; verum ne quid pubi nauticae nostrae innominatum esset, placuit quibusdam

Porcum, aliis vero Diabolum de Tajoán, appellare, fortassis ob miram et horridam squamarum conformationem, quas irritata erigit. Animal est duorum pedum longitudine, Vulpis magnitudine. Totum corpus ab oris ad caudae et pedum usque extremitates, perpetuis squamis nigricantibus, rigidis, et mucronatis, coopertus, except gutture, ventrisque, et crurum infima parte, quae durioribus pilis leporinis vestiuntur. Iidemque pili hinc inde erumpunt in dorso ex ipsis squamis. Magnitudo squamarum pro diversitate partium corporis discrepant; omnes ad exortum striatae, et ad finem quasi laevigatae. Cauda est valida, fere pedem longa, prae caeteris membris mira squamarum textura ornatur: earum enim, quae ejus latera utrimque claudunt, forma prorsus à reliquis dissimiles, nam planae non sunt, aliarum instar, sed cavae quasi incurvatae, quia pronam et supinam laterum partem tegunt. pedes breviusculi palmam circiter longi, posteriores quinque unguibus brevioribus, anteriores tribus oblongis, crassis, sed imbelle curvis, armantur, sicut in Brasiliensi Tamandoá, quibus, aeque ac illa, Formacarum et Vermium latebras detegit, praedamque qualemcumque mordicus tenet. Capite et promuscide non est porcino, ut Armadilho, sed tenuiori et actiori, more Talparum, quo terram commodius evertat. pastum iturus, Lacertis, aliisque Insectis, insidiatur, quibus pinguescit. Unde caro ejus vesca non solum, sed sicut magnae illae Lacertae Brasilienses Leguánae et Tatu, inter epulas ab omnibus passim incolis expetita.

Now here's our translation:

Jacob de Bondt, Historia naturalis et medica Indiae orientalis, 1658
 (In Willem Piso's De Indiae utriusque re naturali et medica libri Quatuordecim)

Appendix. De Lacerto Indico, Squamoso

The image of the disemboweled Lizard that I show here is of the same species, but not of the same size, as that which produced the pelt that Carolus Cluisus presents in his work on exotics. It is frequent in the woods of the Island of Taiwan [Insulae Tajoán]. Its vernacular name is unknown to us at present, but, lest anything should be unnamed for our ships’ boys, some like to call it the 'Pig' or the 'Devil of Taiwan,' perhaps on account of the wonderful and horrible form of its skin, which it raises when aggravated. The animal is two feet long, of the size of a Fox.

Caption: LACERTUS SQUAMOSUS (Scaly Lizard)

The whole body, from the mouth to the extremities of the tail and feet, is wholly covered with continuous, blackish, rigid, and pointed scales; except the throat, stomach and the lower part of the legs, which are clothed with stiffer hairs like a hare. Here and there on the back these hairs grow from the scales themselves. The magnitude of the scales differs on different parts of the body. Near where each scale emerges it is grooved, and near the end almost smooth.

The tail is very strong, robust and about a foot long, furnished with a more wonderful arrangement of scales than found on the other parts: the form of those which line its flanks is completely unlike that of the rest [of the scales], because they are not flat like the others, they are hollow or concave and turned upwards to cover the flanks of the tail region.

The feet are quite short, roughly the length of a palm. The rear [feet] have five short nails, the front ones have three, which are thick and of a pretty good length, and gently curved, just like [those of] the Brazilian Tamandua [Tamandoá], with which it uncovers the nests of ants and worms and sharply bites whatever prey it finds. 

The head and the snout is not swinish, as it is in the Armadillo [Armadilho], but narrower and pointier in the manner of a mole, more suited to overturning soil. When it wants to eat lizards and other insects it lies in wait for them, by which it grows fat. Hence its flesh is not only delicious, but, like those great lizards of Brazil, the Iguana [Leguánae] and Armadillo [Tatu], they are highly prized amongst dishes everywhere by all the natives. 

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