In 1498, ships of the fleet commanded by Vasco de Gama berthed in the port of Calicut, fulfilling the objectives pursued by the Portuguese Crown to reach India by sea. The expectations that motivated the Portuguese enterprise were fed by texts whose content was dedicated not only to the presence of spices, stones and precious metals, or even of men who were committed and receptive to the establishment of military and commercial alliances, but also the existence of various species of animals. Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese, however, other Christians who claimed to have visited the Indies, especially from the 14th century, and have contributed to the dissemination of diverse and sometimes detailed descriptions of animals from these regions. Based on an examination of the species mentioned in travel reports from the late 13th to the early 16th centuries, this article aims to analyze the postures adopted by the travelers to describe and name the animals from India.
Animals, travel accounts, India, Middle Ages, Orient.