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

Page 6


have a grave made the same way. This contains a number of beds on which the
chinas lie, the men being segregated and placed in separate sections. There
is also another tomb in which lies a dead horse, together with an ox and
boy.vit Tn former times~they sayVere buried alive. Commoners have their
own        l     -¶d at a distance from those of the king and nobles,
but all
of them are within the forest. Although the bodies lie in these spots, a
regular and general custom among persons of all ranks is that they prepare
an enclosure containing a mat and a piece of cut pacharis, and in the middle
they set up the richlo and the tagarra (bowl) from which (the dead person)
ate, the gourd from which he drank, the jar from which he took the. oil to
anoint himself - all with a hole driven through them and secured on a stake.
In the case of kings and nobles, their cows and goats are killed and this
(memorial) niche or chapel is adorned with their horns and tails. When
individuals are in trouble, they bring a hen to their padres in order that
these (priests) will discover from their intercessors the reason why the
individuals are suffering the troubles. 'Whatever this priest of abomination
tells them, this they do. It is not only the wretched heathen who believe
in this rite, but what is worse, so too do the Christian blacks, however
we try to persuade ourselves that they really are Christians. At Cacheu,
even in the combetes (?), there are many blacks who are more given to
observing heathen rites than following God's law, their pretence at doing
the latter being only for the reason of their desire to rise in the world
from the connection with us. Since they have no scruple in using religion
to help them on, that is, no scruple in pretending to be Christian, great
scruple may be entertained by those who baptise heathens of such a dispos-
ition without the influence and backing of that force.of arms which is so
important for the spreading of the Gospel.
Every important heathen has in his house the idol of sticks and the
pot-cover of wine, and in regard to small matters he makes sacrifices
(employing these). But in regard to serious matters he goes to the regular
office-holder who keeps and controls the /f.40v/ village idol. The idolaters
believe that the devil enters this idol, or rather that the dead members
their family do, and that these speak through it on matters affecting their
relatives, their parents or their children, etc. All of this is as false
the belief that evil spirits can come to this world instead of merely
suffering in another world. But since they are/from accepting this latter
belief and confine themselves to following the example of their ancestors,
they put all their confidence in these corofins of theirs for the remedying


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