Vietnam 200 years ago: elephant hunting

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One amusement, however, would have proved highly interesting, with which, it. seems, the Sovereigns of Cochinchina usually entertain foreign ambassadors: this is an excursion into the forests to hunt the elephant, the tiger, or the buffalo, on which occasion they usually celebrate the royal feast of elephants.

Hence it has been said that the Cochinchinesee eat elephants; but it is probable that the magnitude of the object marks the peculiarity of the festival rather than the delicacy of the food, which I imagine must be extremely coarse.

In the forests of Cochinchina and neighboring countries these animals are supposed to be of larger size than in any other part of the world. The first I ever saw were at Turon, and their appearance made a very strong impression on my mind.

I may safely say that the elephants of Cochinchina, the peak of Teneriffe, and a storm at sea, are the only three objects in nature that surpassed the idea which my imagination had previously formed of them.

Text: Sir John Barrow
Photo: illustration from the book, internet

Fragment from the book:
Barrow, John, Sir (1764-1848)
A voyage to Cochinchina in the years 1792 and 1793 : containing a general view of the valuable productions and the political importance of this flourishing kingdom; and also of such European settlements as were visited on the voyage : with sketches of the manners, character, and condition of their several inhabitants.
Publication date: 1806

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