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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 10


Whenever they decide to go to war or assault (an enemy) they follow
the traditional practice of the heathen. They have special chinas, which
in their total ignorance they consider valuable in their moments of need,
and to these they make sacrifices which are as brutish as they are
themselves.  For they always offer the chinas the nastiest things(S) such
as the heads and feathers of cocks, and their blood or that of other
animals. Over these they pour palmwine, which is white, and they chew
cola and sprinkle and daub it over the sacrifice. They fill themselves
with the better bits, such as the meat, whose bones they throw back to
the interceding idol, and with wine and other things. They believe that
once this /f.27v/ ceremony is held, they have achieved their end with the
idol, so that when they know misfortune, it can be eliminated by super-
stitious ritual (?). But in relation to what is good they deceive them-
selves, inasmuch as they do not attain it, but believing sincerely that
their abominable sacrifices ascend to God, they depart complacently, as
if they had attended a (holy) jubilee. If after they have performed these
ceremonies to petition for something from God they do not obtain it, they
apply to their witches and give them what is necessary to perform a
cramene. These priests go and offer this to the idol, and when the idol
is asked about the messages they convey to it, the devil sometimes replies.
But he never speaks clearly, only making a loud sound, umum.
In medical matters, some of them are expert herbalists, and hence
they perform cures like doctors and surgeons. Some cures are so striking
and are performed so rapidly that they are of interest to those most
learned in the art (of medicine). This can be seen in the case of those
given a wound measuring a palm-span in breadth from a spear of the kind
they have, a wound which is cured in 8-10 days, without suppuration, by
means of a wonderful herb. The disorders which arise from sensuality they
flatten like hosts (?), the outer appearance being that of a living
thing(?); and those they treat are instantly better. But if an illness is
unknown to them and they will not run the risk of treating it, they obtain
from the sick man something to give to the china, since they have
persuaded the people that (when they are sick) witches are devouring them.
By this trickery these priests make the man believe that they will go to
the idol And will demand that it does not permit this to happen, by causing

(s) The worst (part) for God.


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