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Alvares, Manuel, 1526-1583, et al. / Ethiopia Minor and a geographical account of the Province of Sierra Leone : (c. 1615)
(1990)

Part two: The Province of Sierra Leone, chapter 1: the name, situation and bounds of this province and the nature of the land,   pp. 1-18


Page 6

which we have in our orchards and which are plentiful in all villages.
The valleys, hills and bushlands are bare and without brush wood-''
for burning, like a good part of Europe.. Coming to the variety of
timber and trees, there is one tree so large that from a single specimen
a canoe able to hold two or three hogsheads of cargo can be made. (Now)
let us speak of the very valuable camo (camwood) tree, which is similar
s  - 8     c Ia *- 1d      I  I  - °  '
to thze one 4B    i. .  The Serra is full of this tree, and also of
another kind from which they make dyes, as they do from the ongofrom
which they make a very fine yellow dye.  These woods are not attacked by
damp or worms and are therefore excellent for many uses, and the canoes
built from them last longer.  However the foreign ships only take
cargoes of camwood.  The malagueta (pepper&'plant), a tree of middling
size, is so called because of the fruit it bears, the long pepper,
/f.48 Av/ which is very good for health, being hot and bitter.  Because.
of its medicinal qualities, old hands order it to be used in their
k44Gk4+& and is 4ishe.: it counters chills and poison.  Not only is its
wood used to make masts for small vessels, but also its bark is employed
to make oakum of a kind better than our linen, to c;k the bottoms and
those other parts of ships which continually touch the water. Moreover:
tinder is made from it, which surpasses any other sort.  From a tree
called panca the natives draw a great quantity of tar, by striking the
wood and making holes in it, and out of these comes a liquid called
caca by the natives.  This ifsdried in the sun., and ground into a flour,
which can be boiled up like tar when required; the sign when it is ready
is that it gives off a fetid smell.  If we put on more/I     than tar,
the boat becomes so black that it looks as if it has been on fire and
has turned to charcoal. To make strong ropes there is plenty of matampa,
which is not a tree but in the way it spreads looks like a vine-shoot.
Matampa resembles a fishing rod, but with the knots further apart. It
is cut through the middle and very thoroughly beaten, the core is extracted,
and after very careful scraping the remaining core is made into rope, the
twisting being by hand. This rope is a very necessary item for ships, and
on it depends their strength and safety. Matampa is very adequate for
this purpose, since experience has shown that the ropes made from it are
as good as those made from flax. (Ropes can be made from it) only in
winter time, on account of the damp that the ropes require and the water
that matampa needs, as its normal support when growing. Apart from
making fittings for vessels, such as halyards and guy ropes, Natampa is
used here for many purposes : they use it in building houses, tying up


 


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