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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 10: The origins of the Manes, the fertility of the land, and the character of these heathen,   pp. 1-9

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Gambia River, he met a Mandinga merchant who had hi      air so full of gold
that when he shook his head the precious metal tinkled.(b)    The scholar
was amazed. He engaged in conversation with the merchant, and as he knew
the ways of the land, and had some theoretical knowledge of the language,
he gradually learnt from the stranger what he wanted to know. He asked
him where he came from, and he replied that he came from the renowned
City of Gold. He asked him about the trade there. At this point the
stranger told him what folbws. "Since you wish to know, and since you
have already gained some knowledge of the richness of the land from the
indications of it you have seen hanging in my hair, I will tell you all
about it in detail.   Tumbo Cotum(c) is the most important settlement of
those now possessed by the descendants of Mandi-5nsa, and the richest in
his whole great empire.   Few people live there.   The houses there, and
town itself, are only swept on Fridays; and the post of sweeper is.-held
a jagarefe who belongs to the family of the great emperor.     The amount
gold thus collected is sent to the imperial household, after the jagarefe
is paid, and after the inhabitants have been given their share."
This was the account the Mandinga gave, and he added thatoll the gold
came from this town, and was shared out among the various provinces by the
Mandinga merchants, the most important merchants in Guinea. Hence it is
believed that all the gold of Mina comes from this place, and the gold of
the Sousos, and the little gold which reaches this Province of Sierra Leone.
The kings of Portugal have attempted to gain this trade, but have given up
because of the great difficulties caused by the distance between the gold-
producing land and the sea-ports.    The same can be said regarding the
(b) It is common to carry gold in the hair, while dressed in an old shirt
and breeches, because of robbers along the way, for instance in Farim
Cabo, which is the frontier of the Soneques, who come to this district
to attack all of Mandimansa's boats.
i c)  It is said that the town of the woman who supplies the Manes with
medicines is the true land of gold, her dishes being cast in this
metal, and everything else this great minister of hell employs.
The idol in its niche of gold stands in the shade of a great poulan
(cotton-tree). They offer gold to it. When the sacrifice is
complete, they throw the metal into a very fast stream which runs
at the entrance to the place.


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