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

Chapter 10. Which discusses the Bijagos and their customs. [translated text],   pp. 96-101


Page 97

97.
whom they obey, the lords of the inhrbited islands. In any one
island there may be two or three nobles who live there Farid form
settlements along the sea-shore or nearby. They make their homes
there, with their relatives, arid they obey the oldest among them.      
    j
From these places they sally out in their canoes, to make war by
sea and to attack other places. Their canoes are large and carry
many people. The blacks are such skilled sea-farers that even if
their boat floods and overturns, they swim around and right it, then
they empty it and climb in again. They frequently travel more than
ten leagues when making war, since they carry their attack into the
Rio Grande, into the land of the Beafares, where they spread destruction
and capture many people; and into the Sgo Domingos River as far as
Ca-cheu, where they do tle same. But today they no longer do this,
out of respect for our people who live (at Cacheu). They keep the
whole of the land of the Beafares and the Buramos which faces them in
a disturbed state, by the raids which they constantly make on these
peoples. They disturb the inhabitants so much that they keep watch
(for them) day and night.
4.       The male Btjagos do only three things: they make war, they build
boats, and they draw wine from palm-trees. They are well disciplined
in military practices, (at least) as they understand them. They are
skilful with their round shields. The chief weapons they carry are
spears, which they' call *canicos( two hand-spans long. They are made
from a rounded bar of iron, with an iron tip like our pikes. Their
shields are made from stout poles and interwoven reeds, so that they
are very strong. Their swords are more curved than sickles, and larder.
They use bows and arrows, but the arrows are not coated with poison:
(however,) instead of an iron (tip) they fix the spine of a fish
called Og.e which is considered poisonous and indeed is so. The
woman build the houses and work in the fields, and they fish and gather
shell-fish, doing all that men do elsewhere.


 


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