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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 9

seize them and straightway give them certain potions which reduce    |
their feelings at the cruel outcome.   Then they bring them to the
grave of the dead man and strike them on the back of the head with
clubs they have brought with them. When the women are dead they A
are laid in the grave; each in her own place.   The grave is a very l   
large vault, of a size relative to the importance of the dead man,
The women are laid out this way: some are placed /f.33/ at the headnl 71
others at the sides or at the foot, and they make some stand up or      
be seated, while others are on their knees, (all) with their house-
hold tools in their hands.   Each woman holds whatever signifies the
task she was occupied with in life, so that in the next world the
dead man will not lack this particular service in his exalted state.
Then they completely cover the grave with the best of the East-Indiesi
cloths they possess, cloths called pintados, and with various other    I
cloths.  Also they adorn the dead with whatever he owned in the way
of gold and silver, etc, and sometimes a silver vase.    When the
burial is over, the wake follows, the lamentations being accompanied r
by the sound of musical instruments, side-drums, bambalous and ivory I'i
trumpets.  Under cover of this they kill 50-60 cows, or even 100 if
the wake is that of a king of Bussis. As for goats and hens, one callr
count  the number, for these mourning occasions are turned into the
greatest feastings in life for those who feast only for Epicurean
joys.  Most truly, the feastings here are more extravagant than any-
where else in our Ethiopia.   The lamentations of wives, sons and
brothers continues after the funereal rites are finished. When a new,
king is instituted, he has several oxen killed and the meat displayed'
in a public place, so that anyone of the women of the precious king
who wishes to become his can go and take some. But any woman who does
not do this has permission to go wherever it suits her and to take a
countryman as husband just as she wishes, even if she is the dead
king's sister or niece or any other relative. Now let us discuss
the Ilhas dos Bijagos   (Bissagos Islands) which lie to the West of
this island.


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