MONKEY-BREAD TREE to MOOCHULKA
MONKEY-BREAD TREE, s. The Baobab, Adansonia digitata, L. a fantastic-looking tree with immense
elephantine stem and small twisted branches, laden in the rains with large white flowers; found all along
the coast of Western India, but whether introduced by the Mahommedans from Africa, or by ocean-
currents wafting its large light fruit, full of seed, across from shore to shore, is a nice speculation. A
sailor once picked up a large seedy fruit in the Indian Ocean off Bombay, and brought it to me. It was
very rotten, but I planted the seeds. It turned out to be Kigelia pinnata of E. Africa, and propagated
so rapidly that in a few years I introduced it all over the Bombay Presidency. The Baobab however is
generally found most abundant about the old ports frequented by the early Mahommedan traders (Sir
G. Birdwood, MS.) We may add that it occurs sparsely about Allahabad, where it was introduced apparently
in the Mogul time; and in the Gangetic valley as far E. as Calcutta, but always planted. The
re are, or
were, noble specimens in the Botanic Gardens at Calcutta, and in Mr. Arthur Grotes garden at Alipur. [See Watt, Econ. Dict. i. 105.]
MONSOON, s. The name given to the periodical winds of the Indian seas, and of the seasons which
they affect and characterize. The original word is the Ar. mausim, season, which the Portuguese corrupted
into monção, and our people into monsoon. Dictionaries (except Dr. Badgers) do not apparently
give the Arabic word mausim the technical sense of monsoon. But there can be no doubt that it had
that sense among the Arab pilots from whom the Portuguese adopted the word. This is shown by the
quotations from the Turkish Admiral Sidi Ali. The rationale of the term is well put in the Beirut Mohit,
which says: Mausim is used of anything that comes round but once a year, like the festivals. In Lebanon
the mausim is the season of working with the silk,which is the important season there, as the season
of navigation is in Yemen. (W. R. S.)
The Spaniards in America would seem to have a word for season
in analogous use for a recurring wind, as may be gathered from Tom Cringle.1 The Venetian, Leonardo
Ca Masser (below) calls the monsoons li tempi. And the quotation from Garcia De Orta shows that
in his time the Portuguese sometimes used the word for season without any apparent reference to the
wind. Though monção is general with the Portuguese writers of the 16th century, the historian
Diogo de Couto always writes moução, and it is possible that the n came in, as in some other
cases, by a habitual misreading of the written u for n. Linschoten in Dutch (1596) has monssoyn and
monssoen (p. 8; [Hak. Soc. i. 33]). It thus appears probable that we get our monsoon from the Dutch.
The latter in modern times seem to have commonly adopted the French form mousson. [Prof. Skeat
traces our monsoon from Ital. monsone.] We see below (Ces. Feder.) that Monsoon was used as
synonymous with the half year, and so it is still in S. India.
1505.De qui passano el colfo de Colocut che sono leghe 800 de pacizo (? passeggio): aspettano li
tempi che sono nel principio dell Autuno, e con le cole fatte (?) passano.Leonardo di Ca Masser,
because the maucam for both the voyages is at one and the same time.Albuquerque,
Cartas, p. 30.]
and the more, because the voyage from that region of Malaca had to be made
by the prevailing wind, which they call monção, which was now near its end. If they should lose
eight days they would have to wait at least three months for the return of the time to make the voyage.Barros,
Dec. II. liv. ii. cap. iv.
1554.The principal winds are four, according to the Arabs,
pilots call them by names taken from the rising and setting of certain stars, and assign them certain
limits within which they begin or attain their greatest strength, and cease. These winds, limited by space
and time, are called Mausim.The Mohit, by Sidi Ali Kapudan, in J. As. Soc. Beng. iii. 548.
it known that the ancient masters of navigation have fixed the time of the monsoon (in orig. doubtless
mausim), that is to say, the time of voyages at sea, according to the year of Yazdajird, and that the pilots
of recent times follow their steps.
(Much detail on the monsoons follows.)Ibid.
(monção) for these (i.e. mangoes) in the earlier localities we have in April, but in the other later
ones in May and June; and sometimes they come as a rodolho (as we call it in our own country) in
October and November.Garcia; f. 134c.
1568.Come sarriua in vna città la prima cosa si piglia vna
casa a fitto, ò per mesi ò per anno, seconda che si disegnà di starui, e nel Pegù è costume di pigliarla per
Moson, cioè per sei mesi.Ces. Federici, in Ramusio, iii. 394.
15856.But the other goods which
come by sea have their fixed season, which here they call Monzão.Sassetti, in De Gubernatis, p.
1599.Ora nell anno 1599, essendo venuta la Mansone a proposito, si messero alla vela due
navi Portoghesi, le quali eran venute dalla città di Goa in Amacao (see MACAO).Carletti, ii. 206.