BANYAN-DAY, s. This is seaslang for a jour maigre, or a day on which no ration of meat was allowed; when (as one of our quotations above expresses it) the crew had “to observe the Law of Pythagoras.”

1690.—“Of this (Kitchery or Kedgeree, q.v.) the European Sailors feed in these parts once or twice a Week, and are fore’d at those times to a Pagan Abstinence from Flesh, which creates in them a perfect Dislike and utter Detestation to those Bannian Days, as they commonly call them.”—Ovington, 310, 311.


1690.—“This Tongue Tempest is termed there a Bannian-Fight, for it never rises to blows or bloodshed.”—Ovington, 275. Sir G. Birdwood teils us that this is a phrase still current in Bombay.

BANYAN-TREE, also elliptically Banyan, s. The Indian Fig-Tree (Ficus Indica, or Ficus bengalensis, L.), called in H. bar [or bargat, the latter the “Bourgade” of Bernier (ed. Constable, p. 309).] The name appears to have been first bestowed popularly on a famous tree of this species growing near Gombroon (q.v.), under which the Banyans or Hindu traders settled at that port, had built a little pagoda. So says Tavernier below. This original Banyan-tree is described by P. della Valle (ii. 453), and by Valentijn (v. 202). P. della Valle’s account (1622) is extremely interesting, but too long for quotation. He calls it by the Persian name, lul. The tree still stood, within half a mile of the English factory, in 1758, when it was visited by Ives, who quotes Tickell’s verses given below. [Also see CUBEER BURR.]

c. A.D. 70.—“First and foremost, there is a Fig-tree there (in India) which beareth very small and slender figges. The propertie of this Tree, is to plant and set it selfe without mans helpe. For it spreadeth out with mightie armes, and the lowest water-boughes underneath, do bend so downeward to the very earth, that they touch it againe, and lie upon it: whereby, within one years space they will take fast root in the ground, and put foorth a new Spring round about the Mother-tree: so as these braunches, thus growing, seeme like a traile or border of arbours most curiously and artificially made,” &c.—Plinies Nat. Historie, by Philemon Holland, i. 360.


“…The goodly bole being got
To certain cubits’ height, from every side
The boughs decline, which, taking root afresh,
Spring up new boles, and these spring new, and newer,
Till the whole tree become a porticus,
Or arched arbour, able to receive
A numerous troop.”

Ben Jonson, Neptune’s Triumph.

c. 1650.—“Cet Arbre estoit de mème espece que celuy qui est a une lieue du Bander, et qui passe pour une merveille; mais dans les Indes il y en a quantité. Les Persans l’appellent Lul, les Portugais Arber de Reys, et les Francais l’Arbre des Banianes; parce que les Banianes ont fait bâtir dessous une Pagode avec un carvansera accompagné de plusieurs petits étangs pour se laver.”—Tavernier, V. de Perse, liv. v. ch. 23. [Also see ed. Ball, ii. 198.]

c. 1650.—“Near to the City of Ormus was a Bannians tree, being the only tree that grew in the Island.”—Tavernier, Eng. Tr. i. 255.

c. 1666.—“Nous vimes à cent ou cent cinquante pas de ce jardin, l’arbre War dans toute son etenduë. On l’appelle aussi Ber, et arbre des Banians, et arbre des racines….”—Thevenot, v. 76.


“The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown’d;
But such as at this day, to Indians known,
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother-tree, a pillar’d shade
High over-arch’d, and echoing walks between.”

Paradise Lost, ix. 110].

[Warton points out that Milton must have had in view a description of the Banyan-tree in Gerard’s Herbal under the heading “of the arched Indian fig-tree.”]

1672.—“Eastward of Surat two Courses, i.e.. a League,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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