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Mota, A. Teixeira da (Avelino Teixeira); Hair, P. E. H. (Paul Edward Hedley) / Jesuit documents on the Guinea of Cape Verde and the Cape Verde Islands, 1585-1617: in English translation

24,   pp. [unnumbered]-4 ff.

Page 16

oaths on it, or when it has to decide on or prevent any happening in
the kingdom, /f.84v/ either something that has already happened or
something which must not happen thereafter in the kingdom. The form
of this china is as follows. They take many sticks, each a palm-span
and a half long, All of the sticks are very black, on account of a
mixture of liquids, including the blood from various animals, which
they pour into certain vessels into which they dip the sticks. The
vessels are small pots, with goats' horns between them. From the sticks
they make up a faggot, and this resembles a butcher's chopping-block,
a palm-span and a half high. Hanging from this china by fine cords are
two skulls of dogs. This is the god these people venerate and put
their trust in.
I confess that when we see a heathen king like the king of Guinela
in such majesty, seated in the local style, and keeping his rules of
fine behaviour without a single slip, and we see his queen and nobles,
(yet), for lack of Christian instruction and lack of supjort from
Portugal, (all of them) having nothing better to loo!k up to than that
artefact designed by the devil I am describing, which seems a repres-
entation of hell, then this upsets us to an extent I cannut describe.
When the king and the body of nobles were assembled in order to
take the decision to stop this ritual use of chinas, the king said,
after sending for the china, that he wished to have the use of chinas
stopped, provided that two men who had not been friends for a very long
time made up their friendship. When the men heard thic they made
friends (again), and the king and the governor showed their great joy.
Thus this victory over the enemy was won on 5 April. We believe it
will be the first of many and that Our Lord God will very quickly draw
these heathen to a true knowledge of Himself. Thus henceforth there
will be no more swearing on the china, nor will chinas be employed in
ritual, as I have just stated. The ritual is as follows.
When a king, a queen, or nobles or other persons die, there is
killed with each, according to the dead person's power and rank, same
of those who are closest to that person, men and women, so that they
can serve them in the other life, and (also) some of those whom nature
has endowed most generously with physical characteristics /f.85/ such
as beauty, strength,eto. The padres have seen persons whose appearance
caused grief to themselves (?) . They call these chinas because the
term indicates how much they love them, china in this sense being the
same as 'dearest one'. They kill them by brute force, for they break
their fingers and crush them little by little, and when they are on
the point of dying - they suffer this torture for some three hours -


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