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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 11: The Island of Bissau and the nature and characteristics of its inhabitants,   pp. 1-6 ff.


Page 3

and genitals are displayed on a stake at the fair.    If a commoner marries
a noble woman, he cannot leave her whatever happens, nor can he enslave
any noble who commits adultery with her, however frequently.    But if she
commits adultery with a man of his own standing, and he can manage to   
     L
secure the man, then he can take his case before a nobleman for judgement.
As is common, the idol of these savages is a bundle of sticks, anointj1
with the blood of birds, such as hens, and the blood of goats and cows,
with the feathers of a cock over the blood. Such is the crass error of all
the Papel heathen.   The king la a single wooden figure, which is seated
ojt.
an iron object shaped like a trivet.   Leaning against it is a hort, iron-
shafted spear, whose head, made of the same metal, resembles a scraper.
When the king is taken to be buried the spear travels in the coffin, and
when the ceremony and the funeral rites are over, it is returned to the 
    IL
king's successor.   An ancient object, it serves as the insignia of state
for
this empire.  The chapel of these idols is a funco where the idols are
assembled. The people come here in all their moments of need. Here a firel
is lit at night.                                                        
    Il/'
Opposite this island is another one which is a seminary of devils, 1    
 S
Camassono Island at Serra Leoa.   The site, which is completely green   
    |
because of the variety of trees, is venerated for this reason.    An ancient
tradition tells that a very old king came here to die, and as he thought
of |
other things the waves of the sea swept him away from the shores of the 
    tl
island. Some heathen who passed that way later succeeded in persuading theh'
natives that they had seen the poor king's spear protruding from the ground.&
Hence it became the custom to go to the islet annually, or every second yea
ft
to sacrifice a very large ox, a black one without a blemish; and to hold
great feasts. To these feasts come more than 3,000 men and women, including
ho e men to the number of 70, more or less, riding on the horses which are
bred on (Bissau) island in large numbers.   But only 50 or 60 persons out
ofA  a
this great crowd go to the islet, where they roast and eat the whole ox and
bring no part of it back.   As well as the ox, they each year cast out on
th1
islet a cock and a hen, which die of thirst in the summer season because
there is no source of water there. When they go by canoe to make the
sacdfice - either the king or his jagarefe goes in the canoe, for the king
{B
does not normally go to these feasts - they carry with them a dog, a hen
ani iE
a woman./f.39/ If the crossing is rough, they throw the cock to the waves;
and if they can make no progress, they throw out the dog, and the woman goeS
the same way.  For she is the king's chief china and destined to die when
hj
does, so that if the king is in danger because of the rising storm, they
'lI'


 


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