First comprehensive account of the Maldives
The Maldive Islands.
An Account of the physical features, climate, history, inhabitants, productions, and trade. Colombo Frank Luker, Acting Government Printer, Ceylon 1883
First edition. Folio (33.5 x 21 cm), pp.[iv], 133, [1, blank] 3 folding maps, 1 folding table. A very good copy bound in contemporary half calf, gilt. Cloth a little worn, short tear to bottom of spine. With a letter from Bell to a Mr Ravenscroft loosely inserted, presenting this copy in thanks for the loan of a copy of Pyrard de Laval during the preparation of the work, signed, and dated November 30th, 1883, Colombo. Later pencil ownership initials of C.H.B. Reynolds.
The first comprehensive account of the Maldive islands, prepared by the British civil servant Harry Charles Purvis Bell (1851-1937). Bell served his entire career in Ceylon, and developed an abiding interest in the Maldives, hitherto largely ignored by the British government at Colombo, under whose supervision they fell. Bell devotes most of his study to the inhabitants of the islands, their productions and manufactures, and trade, and adds a chapter on money, weights, and measures. He notes the paucity of earlier writings, and makes use of Ibn Battuta and the 17th century account of Pyrard de Laval. He includes a great deal on Arab and Persian period, and the history of the sultans of the Maldives, from the earliest arrival of Islam through to the 19th century, and their important role as way-station between the Middle East and India.