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

Chapter 4: The domestic institutions of the heathen, their lifestyle and customs,   pp. 1-4

Page 1

Chapter 4
The domestic institutions of the heathen, their lifestyle and customs
Their towns and villages are normally established far from the sea.
Apart from these larger settlements, they have small ones called chicals.j
These they make use of during the farming season and they correspond to
our farmhouses, although they lack all the fine points of ours.    Their
houses are square.   The roofs rise roughly in the shape of a pyramid so
their villages resemble the tents of an encamped army. All of the housest
are covered with thatch or poche, (taken from a tree) from which wine is
drawn and which provides the thinnest and finest nachul used for tofos a
various small personal ornaments.   The houses are decorated by being
plastered with common clay. The more particular among the heathen have an
odd kind of bench running round the house, to make it stronger, and they
whiten the house with oystershell.   Apart from the ordinary apartments in
which they sleep, almost all the houses have an area like a little yard or
a gossipts corner: these are called cabres, and are within the house and
are shut off by the same door.   They are used by lords as court-rooms and
places of audience in relation to matters of minor importance.
As for the furnishings, (being mainly mats) like the female sex they
all give a man an opportunity to sin. They have tagarras to eat from, foj|l
( ? kinds of ) mats, colegas, colmas to sleep on, some cotton (cloths), a
bow and quiver, and some spears.   And to sustain life, they always keep
little rice and some oil, those who can manage it.    The colegas, which
ar ll
made from the tara (raffia) from palmtrees which is also used for godcnhos
(baskets), are employed as trunks by all those natives who as yet are not.
up to anything better. Kings and lords have larger dwellings and rooms fcz|
guests. What they hang on the walls of these houses is only a seepho, th
is, a spike or black sword with a hook at the end on which they hang theirl
bow, etc.  Their binte or execution blade - they call this weapon their
staff-of-arms - acts as a safe-conduct throughout the lands of a king for
any person to whom he gives it. Their carpets are skins of various-
animals, such as goats, antelope, etc.   On these skins they seat their
closest and oldest friends when they come to visit them, but mats andx
colmas are good enough for ordinary people.   Kings and lords welcome guests
/f61/ very generously in their fashion, but (the guestts) purse has to pa
for the feast is offered wholly out of self-interest.    They bow to good
white money : "Come over here I t   : and this is how things generally
go on
here.  Self interest makes its appearance in all sorts of colours.
After birth, children are brought up with all the indulgence the land ,.
permits. They consider those children the finest and most devoted who are|


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