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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 3: The lands peopled by the Mandingas and Sonequei,   pp. 1-12 ff.

Page 1

Chapter 3
The lands peopled by the Mandingas and Sonequei. The situation and
wealth of the country   the characteristics of its various inhabitants.,
and the rites and ceremonies of each nation.
For greenness and freshness the district has no need to envy the
finest lands of Ethiopea, because it possesses springs and full-running
rivers, with green woods providing an awning, and it is especially made
pleasant by the variety of things throughout the land. For this reason
/f.8v/ it is healthy, and lacks nothing to achieve such degree of per-
fection as one may hope to find in these parts. The land is flat. The
temperature is comfortable for the human body and the products necessary
for its well-being are present. For its staple foodstuffs, the land has
rice, and grain of various sorts; for vegetables, macarras and beans;
for other crops, pumpkins, yams, etc; for meat, cows, goats and hens,
all of these being cheap and in great quantity; and for drink, wine from
the palm, beverages from honey and grain, and wine from Portugal, the
latter always available in the ports because of the large amount of trade
in them. Its wild beasts are elephant, buffalo, gazelle, deer - though
not the normal sort -, antas, tigers, corcas [roe-deer,? misreading for
__,_, leopards]-, lions, porcupine and wild boars. Among the smaller
animals are civet-cats, various sanchos, tutus and saninhas. Its birds
are parrots and catarinetas, which are green, two species of ducks, and
gangas which are like cranes. Its snakes include some with two heads,
and black ones which cannot bite but vomit a spit which blinds if it
touches the eyes; and there are some snakes which can be tamed and are
harmless - their skin is covered with different natural designs and the
heathen spare them and tend them with great care, believing them to be
rational transformations of the human body. Here the royal lion is
found and is called jata. When travellers encounter it, and bow to it
in greeting, it pauses to watch; but those who disregard this courtesy
do so at their peril.
Because the land is rich it has trade. Ships, sloops and launches
come here from various parts. The normal trade is in slaves, cotton and
cotton cloth, hides, ivory, and wax. The land has great swarms of Dees
which the natives ingeniously keep in hives of woven straw hung on trees.
Some gold is traded, which comes from the hinterland at the direction of
the Mande merchants who make their way to the coast from the provinces
and lands of their supreme emperor Mande Mansa. The fruiifulness of the
land we are discussing was revealed to Santiago Island in its time of
great need, in 1609, when the land came to its aid by providing food-
stuffs. These commodities are obtained from the country in exchange


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