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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)
(1990)

Chapter 8: Circumcision and various other ceremonies of the heathen, and their wakes and funeral rites,   pp. 1-8 ff.


Page 1

Chapter 8


Circumcision and various other ceremonies of the heathen, and their wakes
and funeral rites.
The devil has made himself an instructor of moral rites and of means
to salvation here, in order to give their superstitious practices his own
colouring. The practice is to circumcise boys during the first eight days
(after birth), but those that are not circumcised in this period are still
circumcised later~a)   No special person is appointed (to carry out the
circumcision), and it is done by whoever can most successfully undertake
it. Mothers give their children regular baths until they are six months
old, and after that bathing becomes a habit with them. They all keep jars
of water at the doors of their houses, and into these they drop white
pebbles, two or three of them, together with bones of darim. They say that
they put them there so that their male infants will be courageous and not
effeminate. The stones represent their dead (ancestors).
Two days after the birth of a child, to the motherts house comes the
relative who alone has been entrusted to carry out the following ceremony.
He takes the baby boy and places him on a shield which is lying on the
ground, then he sprinkles cola on his head. When this has been done, the
man in charge of the rite gives a yell, and a crowd of armed men, who had
been awaiting the call, leave their homes. A great hullabaloo follows. But
those (Portuguese) living there are warned beforehand, to prevent them
taking alarm, and they are told not to ru3h out, because this is a
ceremonial rite involving (the heathen's) corofins (gods) and idols. when
the baby sees this crowd of armed men, what can it do? Once the performance
is over, the man in charge gives the baby back to its mother. They do this
in order to find out how much spirit the child shows, and in order to give
it a training in courage from the very beginning of its childhood. Girls
ai? e not tested this way, for they say that since females lack the organ
of
b..,curaake it woald be a waste' o-'1 time t6 apply the 'MeariP)ofJdeveloping
it.
bt a- diewevbr.; #heriithey reach the korrect age theyrarensent toctheAr
initiation
. C.  5 X1lass:. as deseribed iA the last chkptiri ;It Aeem§ that this
dhildren's
9 a ceremony correlponds  o o± cfiratio, &JltgougH thils comes
At a later
:a L   i age.  I sap this bhciuoe'some feople call the ceremony'C,"pr1parilng
or arming
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s   (a)a  This' is the normalsperfiod;' after two months becauise ok tIe
sickness
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t      . 1Ad>ff  9I-  l   a        c-       -    -    -l;t -,ctda'Iour.f
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Zr  ^      *n   -z   it        I t      a             p    a, . i       O


 


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