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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 7: Aptitudes of these heathen, and their superstitious rites and ceremonies,   pp. 1-14

Page 2



different: the flowering cluster resembles that produced by our palms in
Europe, but the second sort is a bu qh completely made up of fruit in
little cells and armed with sharp spikes. Apart from being arranged like
an army rearguard carrying pikes, there is nothing in Europe with which it
can more suitably be compared than a skinned pomegranate with its white
and red seeds, if there were a pomegranate the size of a medium Calcutta
pumpkin and shaped like a pyramid or sugar-loaf. But the fruit is bigger
than a pomegranate seed, each being the size of a fine olive with a large
stone. The skin of the chaveo is something like that of an olive, and
when it is eaten a pith resembling our esparto muido (thin grass) is left
in the mouth.
From this bunch, I repeat, whose support is almost as wide as an
extended hand and is fibrous, a special wine is drawn. This is less
pleasing when it is fresh than when it is kept from day to day, being very
ruddy. From the outer pulp an oil is made, a more healthy oil than ours,
although red in colour. It is not only in regular use for the table szid
for lighting, but the heathen use it for the ointments they commonly apply.
They make these themselves, especially from the kernel of the nut. No less
do they make use of the eye of the palm tree, from which they draw palm-
cabbages which are very tasty and sweet; and they use the foliage and
branches to enclose their houses and to make ropes. They also value the
little nuts of the cibes, eating the outer pulp but keeping the stone which
they plant in the earth, and from the kernel, which is very tasty with a
taste like that of an apple, there grows a little palm looking like a
medium-sized turnip, which when cooked tastes like chestnuts.  The foliage
if this tree, as well as being used for ropes and various other things,
provides the material for the large number of baskets which are as much a
feature of Banhu country as they are lacking among the peoples of Sierra
Leone. Some people think differently, but we can accept what they say
only if they are referring to the baskets used in the Serra to winnow (?)
rice, which I shall mention in the proper place.
Although I have already mentioned their skill in agriculture, I add
/f.25/ a point here which I should not pass over, as it will interest
persons living in these parts.  The Banhus(b) are very fat : they are also
very brave and very uncomplaining in peace and war. They are the best
(b) The Banhu, a working people, well fitted, for the business of
managing families.


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