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Almada, André Alvares d', fl. 1594, et al. / Brief treatise on the rivers of Guinea
Part II (1984)

[Notes for chapter 14]


14/1  ...o rio das Pedras,

RIO PONGAS TOPONYMY.      'Rio de Pichel' (Tankard River), appearing
first on the Benincasa map of 1468, was probably the earliest
European name for Rio Pongas. That the river was little known to
the Portuguese during the first century of European contact is
suggested by the failure of the early roteiros to mention it,
though Rio Nunez was noted, and by the fact that Pacheco Pereira
wrongly located it North of Rio Nunez (PERES 1952,pp.10,53-4 ;
PACHECO PEREIRA,liv.1,cap.32,p.74,cf.FERNANDES,pp.169-170, note 161).
The name 'Rio das Pedras' (River of Stones) appeared first on
Canerio's world map of 1502 (STEVENSON), and was recorded, together
with the older name 'Rio de Pichel', by FERNANDES (f.127). Possibly
in the 1500s the two names denoted different mouths of the Rio Pongas ;
but by the later sixteenth century the earlier name was disappearing.
A century later, 'Rio das Pedras' was itself in turn disappearing.
In the 1660s, the missionary Faro referred to the 'Rios de Deponga',
and Coelho referred to the 'Rio da Depomgal and to a village of
Depomga, from which perhaps the river took its name (FARO,p.116/
f.87v ; COELHO 1669,p.61/f.51v). In 1678, the English called the
river 'Rio D'Pungat, and in 1684 an English map gave the form 'Pongo'
which/ ACeighteenth century has alternated with the variant 'Pongas'
(KUP,p.98 ; Fitzhugh map). Navigation into the river was first
detailed by FIGUEIREDO (f.46v). The 'Barra de Seacal, tBarra de
Sumpana' and 'Barra de Gazellas' recorded on two pre-1700 maps appear
to have been mouths of the river, later known as 'Sand Bar' and 'Mud
Bar' (OOSTA,p.797, map, said to be from the end of the sixteenth
century; Fitzhugh map,1684). The etymology of Deponga/Pongo/Pongas
does not seem to be known, but the toponym almost certainly derives
from an African term, though there may have been some assimilation
to Spanish pongo 'I put'. One &Ssu name for the river, Ra-Ponka (LACAN)
may derive from the European term, since another S&su name, Banalan,
has an (alleged) Susu etymology (SAINT-PEREp.29).  Alternatively,
it may derive from a Baga term : all the true Baga languages have a
nominal prefix da- , and this might explain 'Deponga' as well as


... River of Stones...


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