CHARDIN, SIR JOHN (1643–1713), French traveller, was born at Paris in 1643. His father, a wealthy jeweller, gave him an excellent education, and trained him in his own art; but instead of settling down in the ordinary routine of the craft, he set out in company with a Lyons merchant named Raisin in 1665 for Persia and India, partly on business and partly to gratify his own inclination. After a highly successful journey, during which he had received the patronage of Shah Abbas II. of Persia, he returned to France in 1670, and there published in the following year Récit du Couronnement du roi de Perse Soliman III. Finding, however, that his Protestant profession cut him off from all hope of honours or advancement in his native country, he set out again for Persia in August 1671. This second journey was much more adventurous than the first, as instead of going directly to his destination, he passed by Smyrna, Constantinople, the Crimea, Caucasia, Mingrelia and Georgia, and did not reach Ispahan till June 1673. After four years spent in researches throughout Persia, he again visited India, and returned to Europe by the Cape of Good Hope in 1677. The persecution of Protestants in France led him, in 1681, to settle in London, where he was appointed jeweller to the court, and received from Charles II. the honour of knighthood. In 1683 he was sent to Holland as representative of the English East India Company; and in 1686 he published the first part of his great narrative—The Travels of Sir John Chardin into Persia and the East Indies, &c. (London). Sir John died in London in 1713, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his monument bears the inscription Nomen sibi fecit eundo.
It was not till 1711 that the complete account of Chardin’s travels appeared, under the title of Journal du voyage du chevalier Chardin, at Amsterdam. The Persian portion is to be found in vol. ii. of Harris’s Collection, and extracts are reprinted by Pinkerton in vol. ix. The best complete reprint is by Langlès (Paris, 1811). Sir John Chardin’s narrative has received the highest praise from the most competent authorities for its fulness, comprehensiveness and fidelity; and it furnished Montesquieu, Rousseau, Gibbon and Helvétius with most important material.