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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 8: The renowned Island of Bussis, the character and organisation of its people, the richness of the land, and the royal state of its great king,   pp. 1-9

Page 8

treasured possessions.k) But let us describe how the king is already
preparing and furnishing himself in order to thoroughly dismay that
Lady here in the eyes of men (??). The king does not lack persons to
instruct him as to how lords in Portugal proceed in this matter, by
devoting themselves to building very elaborate tombs. Being depicted on
the tombs with joyful and delighted faces, while still alive they can gain
pleasure from looking at them and can gradually acquire a feeling of
composure which enables them to depart with greater ease of mind and fewer
pangs, since even their dry and shrivelled bones will perpetuate, and be
of profit by perpetuating, some of the splendid vigour which the bones
enjoyed while they supported a living human body, as their craving (for
remembrance ? ) seeks from them. The King of Bussis, enlightened by his
devoted acquaintainces, is proceeding in this direction. He ordered from
Portugal, and has had sent, a coffin lined with velvet in which to lay this
dry wood destined for eternal flames; for the greatest honours these
people pay are reserved for the dead. And as I said, on this occasion they
squander all their treasure and their most precious possessions, including
cloths and other fineries of all kinds, as well as whatever they own in
valuable commodities such as gold and silver.
Great is the tyranny here which ordains that another chattel, but a
rational one, should perish with the king or any leading person. The
savage even today sets aside for this abominable practice a number of young
women who serve him and whom he keepsP his intention being that, when he
dies, they should be all killed and buried with him. There are some
thirty or forty of these, including some free women who are his wives.
They are killed this way. As soon as the death of the king is known, they
(k) They consider these idolaters their masters, and from these people
the idolaters receive news of what goes on in Portugal.  Who else
could have told them that we purchase graves for burial ? Who else
could have revealed to them all our secrets, who else other than these
malicious enemies of heaven ?
(1) And a number of young men; and if they have any Christian women they
keep them for this ceremony, as happens at the present time, when
one or two are in this king's power, for instance Guiomar Gramaja,
etc. The encouragement of the Jabacouces is enough for the Sousos
to kill many people for this reason.


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