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

Chapter 4. Which discusses the Kingdom of Borçalo, where Jalofos and Barbacins live; and all else in this district. [translated text],   pp. 30-40 and 41


Page 36

36.
whole year the grave of the deceased is covered with a white cloth,
and at the end of the year they again assemble provisions and renew
the wake. But this lasts only a few days, and finally they have a
great feast, and dance to the sound of drums and cymbals. They call
this 'removing the grief'.
12.       Women go about dressed in very elegant black cloths, with their
hair braided in such a way as to make them look tall, just as our
women intend when they dress their hair. Around their necks they
wear strings of beads brought from our Indies which are their
(equivalent of) gold, and Indian gem-stones, which in these parts are
considered to be great treasure and wealth. They wear black cloths
over their heads which serve as cloaks. They walk about with a very
restrained motion, especially the queens. It is the custom in those
parts, when two people meet, f^- one to speak to th? other. Men take
their caps off, and after this courtesy, the older man first kisses the
hand of the younger, and then the younger kisses his. Women kneel down,
and the older kisses the hand of the younger. Kings are addressed in
the following manner. Three greetings are made. The first is to bow
the head after uncovering it. But if the person saluting is a slave of
the king, he takes off his tunic and appears bare from the waist up,
for slaves cannot appear before the king unless they are bared in this
way, even though many of them are captains and governors of very large
places. The second greeting is to extend the arms; and the third is co
stretch out full length on the ground and throb soil on the head, or if
not actually on the head, on one cheek. All do this. (But) those who
regularly attend court and appear before. the king daily do not throw
themselves down in the same way as do those who come from outside.
However they kneel before the king with both knees on the ground, and
with their hands they touch the ground and (pick up soil and) place it
on their heads, this being the sign of subjection.


 


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