NARCONDAM to NARSINGA
NARCONDAM, n.p. The name of a strange weird-looking volcanic cone, which rises, covered with forest,
to a height of some 2,330 feet straight out of the deep sea, to the eastward of the Andamans. One of
the present writers has observed (Marco Polo, Bk. III. ch. 13, note) that in the name of Narkandam
one cannot but recognise Narak, Hell; perhaps Naraka-kundam, a pit of hell; adding: Can it be that in
old times, but still contemporary with Hindu navigation, this volcano was active, and that some Brahmin
St. Brandon recognised in it the mouth of Hell, congenial to the Rakshasas of the adjacent group of
the Andamans ? We have recently received an interesting letter from Mr. F. R. Mallet of the Geological
Survey of India, who has lately been on a survey of Narcondam and Barren Island. Mr. Mallet states
that Narcondam is without any crater, and has certainly been extinct for many thousand years. Barren
Island, on the other hand, forms a complete amphitheatre, with high precipitous encircling walls, and the
volcano has been in violent eruption within the last century. The term pit of hell, therefore, while quite
inapplicable to Narcondam, applies most aptly to Barren Island. Mr. Mallet suggests that there may
have been some confusion between the two islands, and that the name Narcondam may have been
really applicable to Barren Island. [See the account of both islands in Ball, Jungle Life, 397 seqq.]
The name Barren Island is quite modern. We are told in Purdys Or. Navigator (350) that Barren Island
was called by the Portuguese Ilha alta, a name which again would be much more apt for Narcondam,
Barren Island being only some 800 feet high. Mr. Mallet mentions that in one of the charts of the E.I.
Pilot or Oriental Navigator (1781) he finds Narcondam according to the Portuguese in 13° 45 N. lat.
and 110° 35 E. long. (from Ferro) and Narcondam or High Island, according to the French, in 12° 50
N. lat. and 110° 55 E. long. This is valuable as showing both that there may have been some confusion
between the islands, and that Ilha alta or High Island has been connected with the name of Narcondam.
The real positions by our charts are of Narcondam, N. lat. 13° 24, E. long. 94° 12. Barren Island, N.
lat. 12° 16, E. long. 93° 54.
1598. as you put off from the Ilandes of Andeman towards the Coast there lyeth onely in the middle way an Ilande which the inhabitantes call Viacondam, which is a small Iland having faire ground round about it, but very little fresh water.Linschoten, p. 328.I may add that I find in a French map of 1701 (Carte Marine depuis Suratte jusquau Detroit de Malaca, par le Père P. P. Tachard) we have, in the (approximately) true position of Narcondam, Isle Haute, whilst an islet without name appears in the approximate position of Barren Island.
NARD, s. The rhizome of the plant Nardostachys Jatamansi, D.C., a nati ve of the loftier Himalaya (allied to Valerian). This is apparently an Indian word originally, but, as we have it, it has come from the Skt. nalada through Semitic media, whence the change of l into r; and in this form it is found both in Hebrew and Greek. [Prof. Skeat gives: F. nard, L. nardus. Greek [Greek Text] nardoV, Pers. nard
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