Illustration from

"Oriental Memoirs" by James Forbes, 1813

A Coolie Chieftain


Plate seventy-four from the third volume of James Forbes' "Oriental Memoirs". Forbes (1749-1819) was given the added jurisdiction of the smaller district of Chandode, besides Bharuch and Dhaboi in the early 1780s. In 1781, after having collected the revenues in the Dhaboi district he commenced a journey to see the newly conquered city of Ahmedabad. Some way into the journey Forbes and his retinue had to cross the great river Mahi to reach the northern bank at a well-known pass called Dewan. On leaving this defile, they were met by the friendly chieftain of the 'criminal' coolies, Jeejabhy (Jijabhai). 'The principal rajah of these refractory tribes resides at Ometah, the chief fortress of the Mahi coolies, a few miles east of Dewan'. Striking such a friendship was a strategic decision, for that tract was wholly under the control of the coolies.

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