Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese traveler, makes observations about the opium consumption habits in India. He observes that Indians start to eat small quantities of opium as children and increase their use as they get older. Don Alfonso of Albuquerque, a Portuguese general, claims that Indians are lost without their opium and even informs the King of Portugal about it. At the time, an agreement ratified by people eating opium together is considered binding, a habit that illustrates the accepted and social nature of opium consumption.
Source: Austin, G. A. et al. (1979). Perspectives on the history of psychoactive substance use. NIDA.
||Opium (morphine, heroin, opioids)
Related Timeline Items
Opium cultivation and trade under the Mughal Dynasty (1524 - 1707 CE)
Babur, after several failed attempts, establishes his Mughal Dynasty on the Indian subcontinent, and he becomes the first Mughal emperor (1524-1530). Under his rule poppy cultivation and the sale of opium become state monopolies. Opium becomes an important article of trade with China where it is used mostly for medicinal purposes.
Durinq the reign of the great Moghul emperor Akbar (1556-1605), poppy land is a regular source of revenue to the state, and production is carefully monitored. According to the testimonies of 16th-century travelers, opium eating in India (usually in beverage form) is common, but not smoking.
The opium trade was important throughout the Mughal Empire until its collapse c. 1707. At that point control of the opium trade was taken over by merchants in Patna, by then a centre for British involvement in international trade.
Portrait of Afonso de Albuquerque, Viceroy of Portuguese India.