Volume 2, Chapter 4 -- Original Journals of the Voyages of Cada Mosto, and Pedro de Cintra, to the Coast of Africa; the former in the years 1455 and 1406, and the latter soon afterwards.
*Section 1* -- Voyage of Cada Mosto from Venice to Cape St Vincent: He enters into the service of Don Henry, and sets out for the New Discoveries: Relation of the Voyage to Madeira and the Canaries; with some Account of these islands, and their Inhabitants
*Section 2* -- Continuation of the Voyage by Cape Branco, the Coast of Barbary, and the Fortia of Arguin; with some account of the Arabs, the Azanaghi, and the Country of Tegazza
*Section 3* -- Of the Empire of Melli, and some curious particulars of the Salt Trade; of the Trade in Gold; of the Azanhaji; and concerning swarms of Locusts
*Section 4* -- Of the River Senegal and the Jalofs, with some Account of the Manners, Customs, Government, Religion, and Dress of that Nation
*Section 5* -- Continuation of the Voyage to the country of a King named Budomel, with some account of his Territory, and the Manners of his People
*Section 6* -- Account of the Country of Budomel continued
*Section 7* -- Continuation of the Voyage from Senegal, by Cape Verd, the river Barbasini, and to the river Gambia; and return to Portugal
*Section 8* -- The Second Voyage of Cada Mosto, in 1456, to the coast of Africa, in which the Cape de Verd Islands were Discovered
*Section 9* -- Some Account of the Manners and Customs on the Gambia, and of the Elephant and Hippopotamus
*Section 10* -- Continuation of the Voyage from the Gambia to the river Kasa-Mansa, Cape Roxo, the rivers of St Ann and St Domingo, and the Rio Grande
*Section 11* -- The Voyage of Piedro de Cintra to Sierra Leona, and the Windward coast of Guinea; written by Alvise da Cada Mosto



Alvise Da Cada Mosto, a Venetian, in the service of Don Henry of Portugal, informs us in his preface, that he was the first navigator from the noble city of Venice, who had sailed on the ocean beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, to the southern parts of Negroland, and Lower Ethiopia. These voyages at Cada Mosto are the oldest extant in the form of a regular journal, and were originally composed in Italian, and first printed at Venice in 1507. This first edition is now exceedingly scarce, but there is a copy in the king's library, and another in the valuable collection made by Mr Dalrymple. These voyages were afterward published by Ramusio in 1613, and by Grynæus in Latin. The latter was misled in regard to the date; which he has inadvertently placed in 1504, after the death of Prince Henry, and even subsequent to the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by Bernal Diaz. Even Ramusio, in his introduction to the voyages of Cada Mosto, has made a mistake in saying that they were undertaken by the orders of John king of Portugal, who died in 1433.

Ramusio imagined that the discoveries of Cada Mosto might tend to great importance, as he considered the rivers Senegal and Rio Grande to be branches of the Niger, by which means the Europeans might open a trade with the rich kingdoms of Tombuto and Melli on that river, and thus bring gold from the countries of the Negroes, by an easier, safer, and more expeditious manner, than as conveyed by the Moors of Barbary by land, over the vast and dangerous deserts that intervene between the country on the Niger and Senegal rivers, and Barbary. As, by the account of Leo, salt is the most valuable commodity throughout the countries of the Negroes, Ramusio proposed that the ships should take in cargoes of salt at the island of Sal, one of the Cape de Verds, and thence supply the countries on the Niger, which was reported to be navigable for 500 miles into the interior; and that they should bring back gold and slaves in return; the latter to be brought to market at St Jago, another of the Cape de Verd islands, where they would be immediately bought up for the West Indies. All this fine speculation, however, rested on mistaken foundations; as the Niger is altogether an inland river, running to the east, and has no communication with the Senegal and Gambia, which run west into the Atlantic. Yet time, and the civilization of the natives on the Senegal and Gambia, may hereafter realize this scheme of a valuable traffic into the interior of Africa; but it is fervently to be hoped, that the trade in slaves may never be revived.

In his preface, after an apology for his performance, and making a declaration of his strict adherence to truth in all the particulars he relates, Cada Mosto gives some account of the infant Don Henriquez, or Henry, of Portugal, the great author and promoter of maritime discoveries. He praises him, as a prince of a great soul and sublime genius, and of great skill in astronomy; and adds, that he applied himself entirely to the service of Christ, by making war against the Moors. While on his death-bed, in 1432, Don John, king of Portugal, exhorted his son Don Henry to pursue his laudable and holy purpose, of persecuting the enemies of the Christian faith, which he promised to perform; and, accordingly, with the assistance of his brother Don Duarte, or Edward, who succeeded to the throne of Portugal, he made war in Fez with success for many years. Afterwards, the more effectually to harass the Moors, he used to send his caravels, or ships of war, annually, to scour the coasts of Azafi, or Al Saffi, and Messa, on the coast of Africa, without [[=outside]] the Mediteranean, by which he did them much damage. But, having in view to make discoveries along that western coast, he ordered them every year to advance farther towards the south. They accordingly proceeded till they came to a great cape, which put a stop to their progress southwards for several years, being afraid to go beyond it; whence it took the name it still retains of Cape Non,[2] meaning, that such as went beyond should never return. Don Henry, however, was of a different opinion, and adding three other caravels to those which had been at the cape, sent them again next year to make the attempt. They accordingly penetrated about 100 miles beyond that cape, where they found only a sandy coast with no habitations, and returned back to Portugal.

Encouraged by this commencement of successful progress, Don Henry sent the same fleet back next year, with orders to extend their discoveries 150 miles farther to the south, and even more if they found it proper; and promised to enrich all who should embark in this navigation. They went again; and, although they obeyed the instructions of the prince, they could not improve the discoveries. Yet, firmly persuaded by the strength of his own judgment, that people and habitations would certainly be found at length, Don Henry continued to send out his caravels from time to time, and they came at length to certain coasts frequented by the Arabs of the desert, and to the habitations of the Azanaghi, a tawny race. Thus the countries of the negroes were discovered; and different nations afterwards, which will be mentioned in the following relation.

Thus far the preface of Cada Mosto, as given in the collection of Astley, from the edition of Ramusio, with which we must be satisfied in this work, as that in the royal library is inaccessible for our use. The present version has been carefully formed, by a comparison of Astley, with the original in Ramusio, and with the summary by the Reverend James Stanier Clarke, in his curious work on the progress of maritime discoveries, which only gives a selection of what he considered to be its most material parts. In this edition, the narrative style of Cada Mosto, in his own person, is restored as much as possible. It may be noticed, that Alvise is the Portuguese form of the name Louis, or Lewis.

In addition to the two voyages of Cada Mosto himself, there is a third voyage included in the present chapter, performed by Piedro de Cintra to the same coast, the narrative of which was communicated to Cada Mosto by one who had accompanied Cintra, and had been clerk to Cada Mosto in the two former voyages.

[1] Astley, Col. of Voy. and Trav. I. 573. Clarke, Prog. of Marit. Disc. I. 235.
[2] According to De Faria, as already mentioned in Chap. II. Sect. I Cape Non was doubled, and Cape Bojador discovered in 1415, many years before the death of King John. The present recapitulation by Cada Mosto has been left in his own words, without insisting on the exactness of his chronology.--Astley.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 1 -- Voyage of Cada Mosto from Venice to Cape St Vincent: He enters into the service of Don Henry, and sets out for the New Discoveries: Relation of the Voyage to Madeira and the Canaries; with some Account of these islands, and their Inhabitants.

I, Alvise Da Cada Mosto, after visiting many parts of our Mediterranean Sea, being in our city of Venice in the year 1454, at which time I was about twenty-two years of age, determined to return into Flanders, a country which I had formerly visited as a merchant; for my constant attention was, in the first place to acquire wealth, and secondly to procure fame. On the 8th of August in that year 1454, I embarked in one of the gallies belonging to the republic, commanded by Marco Zen, a Venetian cavalier. Contrary winds detained us for some days off Cape St Vincent; during which I learnt that Don Henry, the infant of Portugal, resided in the adjoining village of Reposera, or Sagres, to which he had retired in order to pursue his studies without interruption from the tumult of the world. Hearing of our arrival, the prince sent on board of our galley Antonio Gonzales his secretary, accompanied by Patricio de Conti,[1] a Venetian, who was consul for the republic in Portugal, as appeared by his commission, and who also received a salary or pension from Don Henry. These gentlemen brought on board, and exhibited to us samples of Madeira sugar, dragon's blood, and other commodities of the countries and islands belonging to the prince, which had been discovered under his patronage. They asked us many questions, and informed us that the prince had caused some lately discovered and uninhabited islands to be settled and cultivated, as a proof of which, they had shewn us the before-mentioned valuable productions; adding, that all this was next to nothing, in comparison of the great things which Don Henry had performed; as he had discovered seas which had never been navigated before, and the countries of divers strange and hitherto unknown nations, where many wonderful things were found. They told us farther, that the Portuguese who had been in these remote parts, had reaped great advantages by trading with the inhabitants; having gained as high as 700 or even 1000 per cent, on the capitals employed. We were all much astonished at these things; and I Cada Mosto in particular, being inflamed with the desire of visiting these newly discovered regions, inquired if the prince permitted any person who might be so inclined to embark for these places? To this they answered in the affirmative; and they likewise stated to me the conditions on which any one would be allowed to make the adventure. These were, either to be at the whole expence of fitting out and freighting a vessel; or at the expence of the freight only, the prince providing a vessel. In the former case, the adventurer had to allow on his return one quarter of his cargo, as duty to the prince, the rest remaining his own entire propriety; in the latter case, the homeward cargo was to be equally divided between the prince and the adventurer. In case of no returns, the prince was at the entire expence of the voyage; but that it was hardly possible to make the voyage without great profit. They added, that the prince would be much pleased to have any Venetian in his service, and would shew him great favour, being of opinion that spices and other rich merchandise might be found in these parts, and knowing that the Venetians understood these commodities better than any other nation.

Influenced by all this, I accompanied the secretary and consul on shore, and waited on the prince, who confirmed all those things which they had said, and encouraged me to embark in the voyage to his new countries, by promises of honour and profit. Being young, and of a constitution to endure fatigue, and desirous to visit those parts of the world which had never been even known to any Venetian, and likewise in hopes to advance my fortune, I accepted of the invitation. Having, therefore, procured information respecting the commodities which it was proper to carry with me on such a voyage, I returned to the gallies, where I disposed of all the goods I had shipped for the low countries, and carried to land such things as were necessary for my intended expedition; and leaving the gallies to pursue their voyage to Flanders, I landed in Portugal. The prince evinced much satisfaction at my resolution, and entertained me handsomely at Sagres for a considerable time. At length he ordered me to fit out a new caravel, of about ninety tons burden, of which Vincent Diaz, a native of Lagos, about sixteen miles from Sagres, was commander. The caravel being in readiness, and furnished with everything necessary for the voyage, we set sail on the 22d of March 1455, having a favourable wind at north-east, and by north,[2] and steered our course for the island of Madeira. On the 25th of that month we came to the island of Puerto Santo, which is about 600 miles southward from Cape St. Vincent, whence we took our departure.

Puerto Santo was discovered by the Portuguese on All Saints day, about the year 1418,[3] and Don Henry first sent inhabitants to settle there under Bartholomew Perestrello, whom he appointed governor. It is about fifteen miles in circuit.[4] It bears good bread corn, and a sufficiency of oats for its own use; and abounds with cattle and wild hogs, and innumerable rabbits.[5] Among other trees, it produces the drago or dragon tree, the sap or juice of which is drawn out only at certain seasons of the year, when it issues from cuts or clefts, made with an axe near the bottom of the tree in the preceding year. These clefts are found full of a kind of gum; which, decocted and depurated, is the dragon's-blood of the apothecaries.[6] The tree bears a yellow fruit, round like like a cherry, and well tasted [[=flavorful]]. This island produces the best honey and wax in the world, but not in any quantity. It has no harbour, but a good road in which vessels may moor in safety, being well sheltered on all sides, except the quarters between the south and east, all of which winds make it unsafe to ride here at anchor. There is plenty of excellent fish on its shores; such as dentili, gilded fish, and others.

From Puerto Santo, which was discovered twenty-seven years before, we sailed on the 28th of March, and came the same day to Monchrico or Machico, one of the ports of the island of Madeira, forty miles distant from Puerto Santo. In fair weather these islands may be seen from each other. This latter island was only inhabited within the last twenty-four years, when the prince appointed two of his gentlemen to be its governors. Tristan Vaz having the government of that half of the island in which the port of Monchrico is situated; and the other district of the island, in which Fonzal, Fonchial, or Funchal stands, is under the government of John Gonzales Zarcho. The island of Madeira is inhabited in four several places: Monchrico, Santa Cruz, Fonzal, and Camera-di-Lupi, which are its principal places, though there are other minor establishments; and is able to muster about 800 men able to bear arms, of whom an hundred are horse. There are about eight rivers, which pervade the island in different places; by means of which they have many saw-mills, from which Portugal and other places are supplied with boards of many different sorts. Of these boards, two sorts are in particular estimation, and turn most to account. The one is cedar, which has a strong odoriferous smell, and resembles the cypress tree; of this they make fine, large, and long boards or deals, which they employ for building houses, and for various other purposes. The other, called nasso,[7] is of a red-rose colour, and extremely beautiful; of which they make excellent and very beautiful bows and cross-bows, which are sent into the west. In order to clear the land, the first settlers set fire to the woods, and the fire spread with such fury, that several persons, with their families, and Gonzales Zarcho among the rest, were forced to take shelter in the sea to save themselves from the flames, where they stood up to their necks for two days and two nights without sustenance. Though this island is mountainous, its soil is rich and fertile, and it produces yearly 30,000 Venetian staras[8] of bread corn. At first, the newly cultivated land yielded seventy for one, but has since been reduced to thirty or forty, for want of good husbandry. Owing to the excellence of its soil and climate, and the abundance of springs and rivers, Prince Henry procured sugar canes from Sicily, which he sent to this island, where they have yielded abundant produce; insomuch, that 400 cantaros of sugar, each containing 112 pounds large weight of Venice, have been made at one boiling, and the quantity was likely to increase.[9] They have likewise good wines, considering how shortly this culture has been introduced; and in such abundance, that large quantities are exported. Among other kinds of vines, Don Henry sent thither Malvasia plants, procured from the island of Candia, which have succeeded well. The soil has turned out so favourable for the vine, that in general there are more grapes than leaves, and the bundles are very large, even from two to four spans long. They have likewise the black Pergola grape, without stones, in great perfection; and so well is the climate adapted to this culture, that they begin their vintage about Easter, or at least by the octave after.

We sailed from Madeira, following a southerly course, and arrived at the Canary islands, which are at the distance of about 320 miles from Madeira. There are seven of these islands in all, four of which have been settled by the Christians, Lançerotta, Fuerteventura, Gomera, and Ferro; over which Herrera,[10] a Spanish gentleman, is lord. Large quantities of an herb called Oricello or Orchel,[11] are annually sent from these islands to Cadiz and Seville, which is used in dying, and is sent from these places to all parts of Europe. Great quantities of excellent goat skins are exported from these islands, which likewise produce abundance of tallow, and good cheese. The original inhabitants of the four islands that are subject to the Christians, are Canarians,[12] who speak various languages or dialects, not well understood between the different tribes. These people have only open villages, without any fortifications; except on the mountains, which are exceedingly high, and there they have a kind of rude walls or redoubts, to flee to in case of need. The passes of these mountains are so difficult of access, that a few resolute men might defend them against an army. The other three islands of this group, Grand Canaria, Teneriffe, and Palma, which are larger and better peopled than the other four, are still unsubdued and possessed by the aboriginal idolaters. Grand Canaria has between eight and nine thousand souls, and Teneriffe, which is the largest of all these islands, is said to contain fourteen or fifteen thousand, and is divided into nine separate lordships. Palma, however, has very few inhabitants, yet it appears to be a very beautiful island. Every lordship seems to have its own mode of religious worship; as in Teneriffe, there were no less than nine different kinds of idolatry; some worshipping the sun, others the moon, and so forth. They practise polygamy, and the lords have the jus primae noctis, which is considered as conferring great honour. On the accession of any new lord, it is customary for some persons to offer themselves to die as a sacrifice to his honour. On this occasion, the lord holds a great festival on his accession day; when all who are willing to give this cruel proof of their attachment, are attended to the summit of a high cliff in a certain valley, where, after some peculiar ceremonies, and certain words muttered over them, the victims precipitate themselves from the cliff, and are dashed to pieces. In reward of this sanguinary homage, the lords consider themselves bound to heap extraordinary honours and rewards on the parents of the victims.

Teneriffe, which is the largest of these islands, and the best inhabited, is one of highest islands in the world, and is seen in clear weather from a great distance; insomuch, that I was informed by some mariners, that it had been descried at the distance of between sixty and seventy Spanish leagues, which make about 250 Italian miles. In the middle of the island, there is a prodigiously high peaked mountain, shaped like a diamond, which is always burning. I received this account from some Christians, who had been prisoners in the island, who affirmed that it was fifteen Portuguese leagues, or sixty Italian miles, from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the peak.

They have nine lords on this island, who are called dukes, and who do not succeed by inheritance or descent, but by force; on which account they have perpetual civil wars among themselves, in which they commit great slaughter. Their only weapons are stones, maces or clubs, and darts or lances, some of which are pointed with horn, and others have their points hardened in the fire. They all go naked, except a few who wear goat skins before and behind. They anoint their skins with goats tallow, mixed up with the juice of certain herbs, which thickens the skin, and defends them against the cold, of which they complain much, although their country is so far to the south. They have neither walled, nor thatched houses, but dwell in grottos and caverns of the mountains. They feed on barley, flesh, and goats milk, of which they have abundance, and some fruits, particularly figs. As the country is very hot, they reap their corn in April and May.

We learnt all these things from the Christians of the four settled islands, who sometimes go over by night to the three other islands, and make prisoners of the natives, whom they send into Spain to be sold as slaves. Sometimes the Spaniards are themselves made prisoners on these expeditions, on which occasions the natives do not put them to death, but employ them to kill and flea their goats, and to cure the flesh, which they look upon as a vile employment, and therefore condemn their Christian prisoners to that labour in contempt. The native Canarians are very active and nimble, and are exceedingly agile in running and leaping, being accustomed to traverse the cliffs of their rugged mountains. They skip barefooted from rock to rock like goats, and sometimes take leaps of most surprising extent and danger, which are scarcely to be believed. They throw stones with great strength and wonderful exactness, so as to hit whatever they aim at with almost perfect certainty, and almost with the force of a bullet from a musket; insomuch that a few stones thrown by them will break a buckler to pieces. I once saw a native Canarian, who had become a Christian, who offered to give three persons twelve oranges a-piece, and taking twelve to himself, engaged, at eight or ten paces distance, to strike his antagonists with every one of his oranges, and at the same time to parry all theirs, so that they should hit no part of him but his hands. But no one would take up the wager, as they all knew he could perform even better than he mentioned. I was on land in Gomera and Ferro, and touched also at the island of Palma, but did not land there.

[1] In Grynaeus, this person is called a patrician or nobleman of Venice, and his surname is omitted.--Astley.
[2] Con Veuto da greco et tramantana in poppe; literally, having a Greek, and beyond the mountain wind in the poop. The points of the compass, in Italian maps, are thus named, N. Tramontana. N. E. Greco. E. Levante S. E. Sirocco. S. Mezzoni. S. W. Libeccio. W. Ponente. N. W. Maestro.--Clarke.
[3] This date ought to have been 1413.--Astl.
[4] Barbot says eight leagues; other authors say more, and some less. It is about twelve leagues to the north-east of Madeira.--Astl.
[5] When Sir Amias Preston took this island in 1595, it abounded in corn, wine, and oil, and had good store of sheep, asses, goats, and kine. There was also plenty of fowl, fish, and fruits.--Astl.
[6] From this account it seems to be an inspissated juice.--Astley. This tree has probably received its name from the bark being like the scales of a serpent. About the full of the moon it exudes a vermilion coloured gum. That which grows on the islands and coasts of Africa is more astringent than what comes from Goa. It is found on high rocky land. Bartholomew Stibbs met with it on the banks of the Gambia river, and describes it under the name of Par de Sangoe, or blood-wood tree. The gum is a red, inodorous, and insipid resin, soluble in alcohol and oils; and when dissolved by the former, is used for staining marble. --Clarke.
[7] The woods of Madeira are cedar, vigniatico, laurus Indicus, which has a considerable resemblance to mahogany, barbuzano, chesnut, and the beautiful mirmulano, and paobranco.--Clark.
[8] This measure is said to weigh about thirty-three English pounds, so that the quantity mentioned in the text amounts to 1850 quarters English measure.--Astl.
[9] I suppose he means at one crop. The quantity in the text, reduced to avoirdupois weight, amounts to twenty-eight hogsheads, at sixteen hundred weight each.--Astl.
[10] In Clarke, this person is named Ferrero; perhaps the right name of this person was Fernando Pereira, who subdued Gomera and Ferro.--E.
[11] A species of moss, or lichen rather, that grows on the rocks, and is used by dyers.--Clarke.
[12] Other authors call the natives of the Canaries Guanchos.--E.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 2 -- Continuation of the Voyage by Cape Branco, the Coast of Barbary, and the Fortia of Arguin; with some account of the Arabs, the Azanaghi, and the Country of Tegazza.

Leaving the Canaries, we pursued our course towards Ethiopia, and arrived in a few days at Cape Branco, which is about 870 miles from these islands. In this passage, steering south, we kept at a great distance from the African shore on our left, as the Canaries are far-advanced into the sea towards the west. We stood almost directly south for two-thirds of the way between the islands and the Cape, after which we changed our course somewhat more towards the east, or left hand, that we might fall in with the land, lest we should have overpassed the Cape without seeing it because no land appears afterwards so far to the west for a considerable space. The coast of Africa, to the southwards of Cape Bronco, falls in considerably to the eastwards, forming a great bay or gulf, called the Forna of Arguin, from a small island of that name. This gulf extends about fifty miles into the land, and has three other islands, one of which is named Branco by the Portuguese, or the White Island, on account of its white sands; the second is called Garze, or the Isle of Herons, where they found so many eggs of certain seabirds as to load two boats; the third is called Curoi, or Cori. These islands are all small, sandy, and uninhabited. In that of Arguin there is plenty of fresh water, but there is none in any of the others. It is proper to observe, that on keeping to the southwards, from the Straits of Gibraltar, the coast of exterior Barbary is inhabited no farther than Cape Cantin,[1] from whence to Cape Branco is the sandy country or desert, called Saara or Saharra by the natives, which is divided from Barbary or Morocco on the north by the mountains of Atlas, and borders on the south with the country of the Negroes, and would require a journey of fifty days to cross,--in some places more, in others less. This desert reaches to the ocean, and is all a white dry sand, quite low and level, so that no part of it seems higher than any other. Cape Branco, or the White Cape, so named by the Portuguese from its white colour, without trees or verdure, is a noble promontory of a triangular shape, having three separate points about a mile from each other.

Innumerable quantities of large and excellent fish of various kinds are caught on this coast, similar in taste to those we have at Venice, but quite different in shape and appearance. The gulf of Arguin is shallow all over, and is full of shoals both of rocks and sand; and, as the currents are here very strong, there is no sailing except by day, and even then with the lead constantly heaving. Two ships have been already lost on these shoals. Cape Branco lies S.W. of Cape Cantin, or rather S. and by W. Behind Cape Branco there is a place called Hoden, six days journey inland on camels, which is not walled, but is much frequented by the Arabs and caravans, which trade between Tombucto,[2] and other places belonging to the Negroes, and the western parts of Barbary. The provisions at Hoden are dates and barley, which they have in plenty, and the inhabitants drink the milk of camels and other animals, as they have no wine. They have some cows and goats, the former being greatly smaller than those of Italy; but the number of these is not great, as the country is very dry. The inhabitants are all Mahometans, and great enemies to the Christians, and have no settled habitations, but wander continually over the deserts. They frequent the country of the Negroes, and visit that side of Barbary which is next the Mediterranean. On these expeditions they travel in numerous caravans, with great trains of camels, carrying brass, silver, and other articles, to Tombucto and the country of the Negroes, whence they bring back gold and melhegette, or cardamom seeds.[3] These people are all of a tawny colour, and both sexes wear a single white garment with a red border, without any linen next their skins. The men wear turbans, in the Moorish fashion, and go always barefooted. In the desert there are many lions, leopards, and ostriches, the eggs of which I have often eaten, and found them very good.

Don Henry has farmed out the trade of the island of Arguin, under the following regulations. No person must enter this gulf to trade with the Arabs, except those who are licensed according to the ordinance, and have habitations and factors on the island, and have been accustomed to transact business with the Arabs on that coast. The articles of merchandize chiefly provided for this trade are, woollen cloth and linen, silver trinkets, aldtizeli or frocks, and cloaks, and other things, and above all, wheat; and the Arabs give in return negro slaves and gold. A castle has been built on the isle of Arguin, by order of the prince, to protect this trade, on account of which caravels or ships arrive there every year from Portugal.

The Arabs of this coast have many Barbary horses, which they carry to the country of the Negroes, which they barter with the great men for slaves, receiving from ten to eighteen men for each horse, according to their goodness. They also carry thither silken staffs of Granada and Tunis, with silver, and many other things, in return for which they receive great numbers of slaves and some gold. These slaves are brought first to Hoden in the desert, and thence by the mountains of Barka into Barbary, whence they are transported across the Mediterranean into Sicily. Part of them are sold in Tunis, and in other places along the coast of Barbary; and the rest are brought to Arguin, where they are sold to the licensed Portuguese traders, who purchase between seven and eight hundred every year, and send them for sale into Portugal. Before the establishment of this trade at Arguin, the Portuguese used to send every year four or more caravels to the bay of Arguin, the crews of which, landing well armed in the night, were in use to surprise some of the fishing villages, and carry off the inhabitants into slavery. They even penetrated sometimes a considerable way into the interior, and carried off the Arabs of both sexes, whom they sold as slaves in Portugal.

Leaving Arguin we sailed along the coast to the river Senegal,[4] which is very large, and divides the people called Azanaghi, or Azanhaji, from the first kingdom of the Negroes. The Azanhaji are of a tawny colour, or rather of a deep brown complexion, and inhabit some parts of the coast beyond Cape Branco, ranging through the deserts, and their district reaches to the confines of the Arabs of Hoden. They live on dates, barley, and the milk of camels; but as they border likewise on the country of the Negroes, they carry on trade with these people, from whom they procure millet and pulse, particularly beans. Owing to the scarcity of provisions in the desert, the Azanhaji are but spare eaters, and are able to endure hunger with wonderful patience, as a poringer of barley-meal made into hasty-pudding will serve them a whole day. The Portuguese used to carry away many of these people for slaves, as they were preferred to the negroes; but for some time past this has been prohibited by Don Henry, and peace and trade has been established with them, as he is in hopes they may be easily brought over to the catholic faith by intercourse with the Christians, more especially as they are not hitherto thoroughly established in the superstitions of Mahomet, of which they know nothing but by hearsay. These Azenhaji have an odd custom of wearing a handkerchief round their heads, a part of which is brought down so as to cover their eyes, and even their nose and mouth; for they reckon the mouth an unclean part, because it is constantly belching and has a bad smell, and ought therefore to be kept out of sight; even comparing it to the posteriors, and thinking that both ought alike to be concealed. On this account they never let their mouths be seen except when eating, as I have often had occasion to observe. They have no lords among them, but the rich men are respected somewhat more than the rest.

They are of ordinary stature, and very lean, wearing their black hair frizzled over their shoulders like the Germans, and grease it daily with fish oil, which gives them a nasty smell; yet they consider this as modish. They are extremely poor, egregious liars, the greatest thieves in the world, and very treacherous. They have never heard of any Christians except the Portuguese, with whom they had war for thirteen or fourteen years, in which many of them were carried off as slaves, as has been already mentioned. Many of these people informed me, that, when they first saw ships under sail, which had never been beheld by any of their ancestors, they took them for large birds with white wings, that had come from foreign parts; and when the sails were furled, they conjectured, from their length, and swimming on the water, that they must be great fish. Others again believed that they were spirits, who wandered about by night; because they were seen at anchor in the evening at one place, and would be seen next morning 100 miles off, either proceeding along the coast to the southwards, or put back, according as the wind changed, or the caravels might happen to steer. They could not conceive how human beings could travel more in one night than they were able to perform themselves in three days; by which they were confirmed in the notion of the ships being spirits. All this was certified to me by many of the Azanhaji who were slaves in Portugal, as well as by the Portuguese mariners who had frequented the coast in their caravels.

About six days journey by land from Hoden, there is a place called Teggazza[5], which in our language signifies a chest or bag of gold. In this place large quantities of salt are dug up every year, and carried by caravans on camels to Tombucto and thence to the empire of Melli, which belongs to the Negroes. Oh arriving there, they dispose of their salt in the course of eight days, at the rate of between two and three hundred mitigals, or ducats, for each load, according to the quantity, and then return with their gold.

[1] This is erroneous, as there are several towns on the coast of Morocco beyond this Cape, as Saffia, Mogadore, Santa Cruz, and others. Cape Cantin is in lat. 32°30'N. and the river Sus in 30°25', which is 140 miles to the south. There are no towns on the coast beyond that river; but the northern limit of the Sahara, or great desert, is in lat. 27°40', 186 miles to the south of the river Sus, and is surely inhabited by wandering Arabs. Even the great desert, which extends 750 miles from north to south, almost to the river Senegal, is thinly interspersed by several wandering tribes of the Azanhaji.--E.
[2] Called Tombuto in the original, and Ataubat in Grynaeus.--Astl.
Hoden stands in an ouasis, or watered island, in the sea of sand, or great desert, about lat. 19°20'N. and W. long. 11°40'.--E.
[3] Under the general name of Azanhaji, which probably signifies the pilgrims or wanderers of the desert, the Nomadic Arabs or Moors are distinguished into various tribes; as Beni-amir, Beni-sabi, Hilil Arabs, Ludajas, and Hagi; sometimes called Monselmines, Mongearts, Wadelims, Labdessebas, and Trasarts; all named in their order from north to south, as occupying the desert towards the Atlantic.--E.
[4] In the text this river is named Senega, and its name probably signifies the river of the Azanhaji. It Is called in Ramusio Oro Tiber.--F.
[5] The name of this place is explained as signifying a chest or bag of gold. There is a place marked in the Saharra, or great sandy desert; under the name of Tisheet, where there are salt mines, in lat. 17° 40' N. and long. 6° 40' W. which may possibly be Teggazza. The distance of Tisheet from Hoden in our maps is about 375 miles E. S. E. But there are other salt mines in the desert still farther to the east. --E.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 3 -- Of the Empire of Melli, and some curious particulars of the Salt Trade; of the Trade in Gold; of the Azanhaji; and concerning swarms of Locusts.

The empire of Melli, of which some mention has been made in the preceding Section, is situated in an extremely hot climate, and affords very bad nourishment for beasts; insomuch that out of an hundred camels which go from the desert into that country, scarcely twenty-five return; several even of the Arabs and Azanhaji, belonging to the caravans, sicken and die likewise every year. There are no quadrupeds kept by the natives of the country, as indeed none can live there for any time. It is reckoned to be forty days journey on horseback from Tegazza to Tombuctu, and thirty from thence to Melli.[1] Having inquired what use the merchants of Melli made of this salt, the traders of the desert informed me, that a part of it was consumed in that country, which lying near the line, where the days and nights are of equal length, certain seasons of the year are so excessively hot that the blood of the inhabitants would putrify, if it were not for the salt, and they would all die. They have no art or mystery in its use; but every one dissolves a small piece every day in a porringer of water, and drinks it off, which in their opinion preserves their health.

The remainder of the salt is carried a long way in pieces on men's heads, every piece being as large as a man can well bear. As brought from Teggazza, the salt is in large pieces as taken out of the mine, each camel being loaded with two pieces, and the negroes break these down into smaller pieces, for the convenience of carrying them on their heads, and muster a large number of footmen for this yearly traffic. These porters have each a long forked stick in their hands; and, when tired, they rest their loads on these sticks. They proceed in this manner till they arrive on the banks of a certain water, but whether fresh or salt my informer could not say, yet I am of opinion that it must be a river, because, if it were the sea, the inhabitants could not be in want of salt in so hot a climate. The negroes are hired to carry it in this manner for want of camels or other beasts of burden, as already mentioned; and, from what has been said, it may easily be concluded that the number, both of the carriers and consumers, must be very great. When arrived at the water side, the proprietors of the salt place their shares in heaps in a row, at small distances, setting each a particular mark on his own heap; and when this is done, the whole company retires half a day's journey from the place. Then the other negroes, who are the purchasers of the salt, who seem to be the inhabitants of certain islands, but who will on no account be seen or spoken to, come in boats to the place where the heaps of salt are placed, and after laying a sum in gold on each heap as its price, retire in their turns. After they are gone, the owners of the salt return, and if the quantity of gold on their heaps is satisfactory to them, they take it away and leave the salt; if not, they leave both and withdraw again. In this manner they carry on their traffick, without seeing or speaking to each other, and this custom is very ancient among them, as has been affirmed to me for truth by several merchants of the desert, both Arabs and Azanhaji, and other creditable persons.[2]

On inquiring how it came to pass that the emperor of Melli, whom they represented as a powerful sovereign, did not find means, by friendship or force, to discover who these people were who would not suffer themselves to be seen or talked to, I was informed that this emperor, not many years ago, resolved to procure some of these invisible people, and held a council on the occasion, in which the following plan was devised and carried into execution. Before the salt caravan returned the half day's journey from their salt heaps, some of the emperor's people made certain pits by the water side, and near the place where the salt was left, and when the negroes came to deposit their gold on the salt, those who were concealed in the pits attacked them suddenly and took four of them prisoners, all the rest making their escape. Three of those who were thus taken were immediately set free by the captors, who judged that one would be quite sufficient to satisfy the curiosity of their emperor, and that the negroes would be the less offended. But after all, the design proved abortive; for though spoken to in various languages, the prisoner would neither speak or take any victuals, and died at the end of four days. On this account, the Melli negroes concluded that these other negroes were dumb; but others were of opinion, that being endowed with the human form, they must necessarily have the power of speech; but, that finding himself treated in this manner, so contrary to ancient custom, he refused to speak from indignation. This untoward result was much regretted by the negroes of Melli, because it prevented them from gratifying the curiosity of their emperor; who, on being informed of this person's death, was much dissatisfied, yet asked what manner of men the prisoners were. He was accordingly informed that they were of a deep black colour, well shaped, and a span taller than the natives of Melli. That their under lip was thicker than a man's fist, of a very red colour, and hung down on their breasts, with something like blood dropping from it; but that their upper lips were small, like those of other men. That the form of the under lip exposed their gums and teeth, which were larger than their own, having great teeth in each corner of their mouth, with large black eyes, and altogether a terrible appearance, as the gums dropped blood continually, as well as the great hanging under lip.

This cross accident prevented all the succeeding emperors of Melli from making any farther attempt of the kind; because from that time, these negroes forbore for three years from coming to buy salt as usual. It is believed that their lips began to putrify, through the excessive heat of the climate; and being no longer able to endure a distemper, of which some must have died for want of the effectual remedy which they had experienced from the use of salt, they returned of their own accord to traffic for that commodity in the old way. All this has established an opinion that they cannot live without salt; the negroes of Melli judging of the case of others by their own. As for the emperor of Melli, he cares not whether these blacks will speak, and be seen or not, so that that he has the profit of their gold.[3] This is all I could learn on this subject, which I think may be credited, as so many persons have vouched for its truth, of which I, who have both seen and heard of many wonderful things in this world, am perfectly satisfied.

The gold brought to Melli is divided into three parts. One part is sent by the caravan which goes annually from Melli to Kokhia,[4] which lies on the road to Syria and Cairo. The other two parts go first to Tombuctu, whence one of them goes by Toet[5] to Tunis and other ports of the Barbary coast, and the other portion is carried to Hoden, and from thence to Oran and One,[6] towns in Barbary, which are within the Straits of Gibraltar, and to Fez, Morocco, Arzila, Azafi, and Messa, towns on the African coast of the Atlantic, where the Italians and other Christians procure it from the Moors, in return for various commodities. Gold is the best and principal commodity which comes through the country of the Azanhaji, and a part of it is brought every year from Hoden to Arguin, where it is bartered with the Portuguese.[7]

No money is coined in the land of the Tawny Moors, or Azenhaji; nor is any money used by them, or in any of the neighbouring countries; but all their trade is carried on by bartering one commodity against another. In some of their inland towns, the Arabs and Azanbaji use small white porcelain shells, or cowries; which are brought from the Levant to Venice, and sent from thence into Africa. These are used for small purchases. The gold is sold by a weight named mitigal, which is nearly equal in value to a ducat. The inhabitants of the desert have neither religion nor sovereign; but those who are richest, and have the greatest number of retainers and dependents, are considered as chiefs or lords. The women are tawny, and wear cotton garments, which are manufactured in the country of the Negroes; but some of them wear a kind of cloaks, or upper garments, called alkhezeli, and they have no smocks. She who has the largest and longest breasts, is reputed the greatest beauty; on which account, when they have attained to the age of seventeen or eighteen, and their breasts are somewhat grown, they tie a cord very tight around the middle of each breast, which presses very hard and breaks them, so that they hang down; and by pulling at these cords frequently, they grow longer and longer, till at length in some women they reach as low as the navel. The men of the desert ride on horseback after the fashion of the Moors; and the desert being everywhere very hot, and having very little water, and extremely barren, they can keep very few horses, and those they have are short lived. It only rains in the months of August, September and October. I was informed that vast swarms of locusts appear in this country some years, in such infinite numbers as to darken the air, and even to hide the sun from view, covering the horizon as far as the eye can reach, which is from twelve to sixteen miles in compass; and, wherever they settle they strip the ground entirely bare. These locusts are like grasshoppers, as long as one's finger, and of a red and yellow colour. They come every third or fourth year, and if they were to pay their visits every year, there would be no living in the country. While I was on the coast, I saw them in prodigious and incredible numbers.

[1] The distance between Tisheet and Tombuctu, according to our best maps, is about 560 miles E. and by S. In the same proportion, supposing Tisheet to be Teggazza, the distance between Tombuctu and Melli ought to be about 420 miles. Of Melli we have no traces in our modern maps, but it may possibly be referred to Malel, the apparent capital of Lamlem; see Pinkert. Geogr. II. 917, as laid down from the Arabian geographers, nearly 1200 miles E.S.E. from Tombuctu.--E.
[2] This story is probably a fiction, proceeding upon a trade of barter between parties who did not understand the languages of each other. The succeeding part of the story seems a mere fable, without the smallest foundation whatever.--E.
[3] Few persons, perhaps, will be disposed to think the credit of the Africans, however positive, or the belief of the author, however strong, sufficient evidence of the truth of this story. Yet it certainly is a common report of the country, and not the invention of Cada Mosto. Jobson, who was at the Gambra or Gambia in 1620, repeats the whole substance of this story; and Movette relates the circumstances of the blacks trafficking for salt without being seen, which he had from the Moors of Morocco. He leaves out, however, the story of the frightful lips. Every fiction has its day; and that part is now out of date.--Astl.
[4] Melli being itself unknown, we can hardly look to discover the situation of Kokhia or Cochia; but it may possibly be Kuku, a town and district to the N.E. of Bornou, which lies in the direction of the text; or it may be Dar Kulla, greatly more to the S.W. but still in the same track.--E.
[5] In Grynaeus this place is called Ato. As in the direction of the caravan from Tombuto towards Tunis, it may possibly be Taudeny, an ouasis or island of the great desert, in lat. 21° 30' N.--E.
[6] Called Hona in Grynaeus. What part of Barbary this name may refer to does not appear. But the passage ought perhaps to run thus, "to Oran by the Mountain of Wan," as there is a range mountains of that name to the S. E. of Oran, which joins the chain of Atlas, or the Ammer Mountains.--E.
[7] This is the earliest account of the places from whence gold is brought, and of the course of its trade through Africa, and thence into Europe; and is even more particular and exact than any that has been given by later authors.--Astl.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 4 -- Of the River Senegal and the Jalofs, with some Account of the Manners, Customs, Government, Religion, and Dress of that Nation.

Leaving Cape Branco, and the Gulf of Arguin, we continued our course along the coast to the river Senegal, which divides the desert and the tawny Azanhaji from the fruitful lands of the Negroes. Five years before I went on this voyage, this river was discovered by three caravels belonging to Don Henry, which entered it, and their commanders settled peace and trade with the Moors; since which time ships have been sent to this place every year to trade with the natives.[1] The river Senegal is of considerable size, being a mile wide at the mouth, and of sufficient depth. A little farther on it has another entrance, and between the two, there is an island which forms a cape, running into the sea, having sand-banks at each mouth that extend a mile from the shore.[2] All ships that frequent the Senegal ought carefully to observe the course of the tides, the flux and reflux of which extend for seventy miles up the river, as I was informed by certain Portuguese, who had been a great way up this river with their caravels. From Cape Branco, which is 280 miles distant, the whole coast is sandy till within twenty miles of the river. This is called the coast of Anterota, and belongs entirely to the Azanhaji or Tawny Moors. I was quite astonished to find so prodigious a difference in so narrow a space, as appeared at the Senegal: For, on the south side of the river, the inhabitants are all exceedingly black, tall, corpulent and well proportioned, and the country all clothed in fine verdure, and full of fruit trees; whereas, on the north side of the river, the men are tawny, meagre, and of small stature, and the country all dry and barren. This river, in the opinion of the learned, is a branch of the Gihon, which flows from the Terrestrial Paradise, and was named the Niger by the ancients, which flows through the whole of Ethiopia, and which, on approaching the ocean to the west, divides into many other branches. The Nile, which is another branch of the Gihon, falls into the Mediterranean, after flowing through Egypt.[3]

The first kingdom of the Negroes is on the banks of the Senegal, and its inhabitants are called Gilofi or Jalofs. All the country is low, not only from the north to that river, but also beyond it, as far south as Cape Verd, which is the highest land on all this coast, and is 400 miles from Cape Branco. This kingdom of the Jalofs, on the Senegal, is bounded on the east by the country called Tukhusor; on the south by the kingdom of Gambra or Gambia; on the west by the Atlantic Ocean; and on the north by the river Senegal and the Azanhaji.[4] The king who reigned in Senegal in my time was named Zukholin, and was twenty-two years old. This kingdom is not hereditary; but for the most part, three or four of the principal lords, of whom there are many in the country, choose a king, in the event of a vacancy, but always fix their choice on a person of noble lineage, who reigns only as long as he gives satisfaction to these great lords. They often dethrone their kings by force; who, on the other hand, often render; themselves so powerful as to stand on their defence. This renders the government unsettled, and is productive of civil wars; similar to Egypt, where the Soldan of Cairo is always in fear of being killed or banished.

The people are savages, and extremely poor, having no walled towns, and their villages are entirely composed of thatched cottages. They use neither lime nor stone in building, not knowing how to make the one, or to form the other. The kingdom of the Jalofs is small, and, as I was informed, extends only 300 miles along the coast, and about the same distance inland. The king has no settled revenue; but the lords of the country court his favour by making him yearly presents of horses, which being scarce, are in high estimation, together with horse furniture, cows and goats, pulse, millet, and other things. He likewise increases his wealth by means of robbery, and by reducing his own subjects, and those of neighbouring provinces, to slavery, employing a part of these slaves to cultivate the lands which are assigned to him, and selling the rest to the Arabs and Azanhaji traders, who bring horses and other things for sale; as likewise to the Christians, since they have established a trade in these parts.

Every man may keep as many wives as he pleases. The king has always upwards of thirty, and distinguishes them according to their descent, and the rank of the lords whose daughters they are. He keeps them in certain villages of his own, eight or ten in one place, each having a separate house to dwell in, with a certain number of young women to attend her, and slaves to cultivate the land which is assigned for her maintenance, which they sow and reap, and to tend her cows and goats. When the king comes to any of these villages, he brings no provisions along with him, as his women are obliged to support him and his retinue whenever he visits them. Every morning at sunrise, each of his wives in the village where he happens to reside, prepares three or four dishes of various viands, such as flesh, fish, or other dainties, cooked in their fashion; which are carried by the slaves to the king's pantry; so that in less than an hour, thirty or forty dishes are provided, and when the king has a mind to eat, he finds everything ready at his command. When he has eaten of such things as he likes best, the remainder is given to his retinue; but as this diet is never very plentiful, they are but poorly fed. He travels about in this manner from place to place, visiting his several wives, by which means he has a very numerous issue; and whenever one of his wives happens to fall with child, he visits her no more. The lords or chiefs of the country live in a similar manner.

These negroes profess the Mahometan religion, but are not even so well instructed in it as the tawny Moors, more especially the common people. The lords have always about them some Arabs or Azanhaji for this purpose, who inculcate on their minds that it would be disgraceful for men of their quality to live in ignorance of the laws of God, like the common people who have no religion. They have become Mahometans merely by means of their intercourse with the Azanhaji and Arabs; for since they became acquainted with the Christians, they are by no means so fond of the Mahometan faith. The generality of the negroes go quite naked, except a piece of goat skin before; but the lords who are able to procure such, wear cotton shirts, which are spun and manufactured by their women. Their webs are only a span in width, as they have not sufficient art to construct and use wider looms; so that they are obliged to sew five, six, or more of these webs together, when it is required to make any large piece of work. The shirts reach half way down the thighs, and have wide sleeves which cover only half of their arms. They wear also cotton drawers, reaching to the small of their legs; and these drawers are made preposterously wide, being often thirty-five or forty palms in circumference; so that, when tied on, they are full of plaits, and though like a sack before, the hinder part trails on the ground like the train of a large petticoat. Thus, though making a most ridiculous appearance, they think nothing comes up to their dress for elegance, and they often ask the Europeans if they ever saw a finer dress. Their women, both married and unmarried, go naked from the waist upwards, and wear a piece of cotton which covers them from the waist to the middle of the legs. Both sexes go barefooted, and have no coverings to their heads; and weave and tie their hair, though short, into neat tresses. The men often employ themselves in women's work, such as spinning, washing clothes, and such like employments.

This country is extremely hot, the month of January being not so cold as it is with us in Italy in the month of April; and the farther we went to the south, the weather became so much the hotter. Both men and women wash themselves four or five times a day, and are very cleanly in their persons; but are by no means so in regard of eating, in which they observe no rule. Although very ignorant, and extremely awkward in anything to which they have not been accustomed, they are as expert as any European can be in their own business, and in all things with which they are acquainted. They are full of words, and extremely talkative, and are for the most part liars and cheats. Yet they are exceedingly hospitable, and charitably disposed, as they will most readily give a dinner, or a supper, or a night's lodging, to any stranger who comes to their houses, without expecting any remuneration or reward. The chiefs of these negroes are often at war against each other, or against the neighbouring tribes or nations; but they have no cavalry, for want of horses. In war, their only defensive armour is a large target, made of the skin of an animal called Danta, which is very difficultly pierced; and their principal weapons are azagays or light darts, which they throw with great dexterity. These darts are pointed with iron, the length of a span, and barbed in different directions, so that they make dangerous wounds, and tear the flesh extremely when pulled out. They have also a Moorish weapon, much-bent like a Turkish sword or cimeter, and made of iron, without any steel, which they procure from the negroes on the river Gambia, as they either have no iron in their own country, or want knowledge or industry in working it. Having but few weapons, or rather no missiles, their wars are very bloody, as they soon come to close quarters, and their strokes seldom fall in vain; and, being extremely fierce and courageous, they will rather allow themselves to be slain than save themselves by flight; neither are they disheartened by seeing their companions slain. They have no ships, nor had they ever seen any before the Portuguese came upon their coast; but those who dwell upon the river Senegal, and some who are settled on the sea coast, have zoppolies or canoes, called almadias by the Portuguese, which are hollowed out of a single piece of wood, the largest of which will carry three or four men. They use these almadias for catching fish, and for transporting themselves up or down the river. The negroes of this country are the most expert swimmers in the world, as I can vouch from frequent experience of their dexterity.

[1] Cada Mosto is incorrect in the chronology of this discovery, and even de Barros is not quite decided as to the first discovery of the Senegal. He says that Denis Fernandez passed it in 1446, and that Lancerot discovered it in 1447; the latter of which is eight years before the visit of Cada Mosto.--Clarke.
[2] The northern mouth of the Senegal is in lat. 16° 40'. The southern in 15° 45', both N. so that the distance between them, or the length of the island mentioned in the text, is about sixty-two miles.--E.
[3] This fancy of all the great rivers in Africa being branches from one principal stream, is now known to be entirely erroneous.--Astl.
[4] Although the first kingdom, or kingdoms, of the Negroes lies on the Senegal, Senega, or Sanaghas, and others along the Gambia, yet there were not properly any kingdoms of these names. On the north, indeed, of the Sanagha, lay the country of the Sanhaga, Azanaghi, or Azanhaji, from whence the river seems to have taken its name; but was divided among various tribes of people, and not under any one sovereign. Geographers, however, have since continued to propagate this first error.--Astl.
The Jalofs and Foulahs inhabit the country between the Senegal and Gambia, on which latter river the Feloops reside. What is meant by Tukhusor in the text does not appear, unless it may obscurely indicate Karta.--E.



Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 5 -- Continuation of the Voyage to the country of a King named Budomel, with some account of his Territory, and the Manners of his People.

Having passed the river Senegal, we sailed about 800 miles farther south along the coast, which was all low land without mountains, till we came to the territory or kingdom of Budomel.[1] As some Portuguese, who had dealt with Budomel, represented him as a very just person who paid for any goods he might receive, and might therefore be confided in, I stopped at his country, that I might endeavour to dispose of some Spanish horses I had on board, which are in great request among the Negroes; besides which, I had some cloth, Moorish wrought silks, and other commodities for sale. We came, therefore to anchor, at a place on the coast, called Palma di Budomel, which is only an open roadstead, and not a port. I immediately dispatched my negro interpreter on shore to inform this lord of my arrival, and of the goods I had on board for sale. Not long afterwards Budomel came himself to the beach, attended by about fifteen horsemen and an hundred and fifty foot, and sent a message desiring me to land, with professions of a friendly disposition, and promising to render me every attention and service in his power. I went accordingly on shore immediately, and was received with great civility. After some discourse, I delivered to him seven horses, with their furniture; and every other article for which he expressed an inclination, all of which had cost me 300 ducats, trusting to his honour for payment, which was to be in slaves, and which he promised to deliver at his own residence, which was twenty-five miles distant from the shore, whither he invited me to accompany him. To this invitation I readily agreed, induced as much by a desire of seeing the country, as on account of receiving payment. Before setting out however, Budomel made me a present of a beautiful negress, about twelve years of age, who, he said, was meant to serve me in the cabin; and I received the gift, and sent her on board the caravel.

I was furnished by Budomel with horses and every thing necessary for the journey; and when we arrived within four miles of his residence, he gave me in charge to his nephew Bisboror, who was lord of a small town or village at which we stopped. Bisboror took me to his own house, where I was treated with much civility and attention, during twenty-eight days which I tarried in that place. This was in November 1455. In that time I went often to visit Budomel, accompanied by his nephew, and had many opportunities to observe the produce of the country, and the manners of the inhabitants, more especially as, on account of the tempestuous weather, I was under the necessity of travelling back by land to the river Senegal. For, finding it impossible to get on board at the coast by reason of the surf, I had to order the ship to return to that river, and went there by land to re-embark. On this occasion, being very desirous to transmit instructions to those on board the ship to meet me at the river Senegal, I inquired among the negroes if any one would undertake to carry a letter from the shore. Several of them readily offered their services, though the ship lay three miles from the shore, and, owing to a strong wind, the sea broke on the shore with a tremendous surf, insomuch that I thought it impossible for any one to succeed in the attempt. Besides the surf, there were several sand banks near the shore, and other banks about half way to the ship, between which there ran a strong current, sometimes one way and sometimes the other, along shore, so that it was extremely difficult for any one to swim through without infinite danger of being carried away by the stream; and the sea broke with such violence on the banks, that it seemed quite impossible to surmount such complicated obstacles. Yet two of the negroes offered to go, and only demanded two mavulgies of tin for each of them, one mavulgi being worth no more than a grosso,[2] at which price they engaged to carry my letter in safety to the ship. I cannot express the difficulties which they encountered in passing the sand bank. They were sometimes out of sight for a considerable space, so that I often thought they were both drowned. At last, one of them, finding himself unable to resist the violence with which the waves broke over him, turned back; but the other, being stronger, got over the bank after struggling a whole hour, and, having carried the letter to the caravel, returned with an answer. This seemed to me very wonderful, and made me conclude that the negroes of this coast must be the most expert swimmers in the world.

It has been already observed, that those who are called lords in this country have neither castles nor cities, the king even having nothing but villages with thatched houses. Budomel is lord of one part of this kingdom, yet his place of residence was not a palace, nor even a walled house. These great men are not lords on account of their riches or treasure, as they possess neither, nor have they any coin in use among them; but they are considered as such out of courtesy, and on account of the great retinues by which they are always attended, being more feared and respected by their subjects than any of the lords in Italy. Budomel has several villages appointed for his own habitation and that of his wives, as he never fixes in one place. The village in which I resided with Bisboror was one of his habitations, containing between forty and fifty thatched cottages, built near one another, and surrounded with ditches and strong pallisades, having only one or two passages left for entering; and every house had a court-yard, inclosed by a hedge. According to report, Budomel had nine wives in this place, and more or less in several other villages. Each of these wives had five or six young negresses to attend upon her, with all of whom he might sleep when he pleased, without giving offence to the wives, for such is the custom of the country. Both sexes are extremely amorous; and Budomel strongly importuned me for philacteries, in which he had been informed the Europeans were very expert, and offered any reward within his power for my compliance. They are very jealous, and suffer no man to enter the houses which are inhabited by the women, not even their own sons.

Budomel is always attended by a retinue of at least 200 negroes, who are changed from time to time, some going away and others coming back in their room [[=place]]; besides which, many people repair to wait upon him from the adjacent places which are under his government. Before arriving at his particular apartment there are seven large courts, one within the other, having a tree in the middle of each, where those wait who come to him on business. His family is distributed in these courts, according to their several ranks; the most considerable having their station in the court nearest his dwelling, and the meanest in the outermost court of all. Few people are allowed to approach his own particular apartment, except the Christians and Azanhaji, who have free admission and more liberty is allowed to them than to the negroes. This lord affects great state and gravity in his deportment, and does not allow himself, to be seen except an hour every morning, and for a short while in the evening; at which times he appears near the door of an apartment in the first court, into which only persons of note are permitted to enter. On these occasions of giving audience, every person who come to speak to him, however high may be his rank, is in the first place obliged to strip himself stark naked, except the small cloth in front formerly mentioned; and, immediately on entering the court, he falls down on his knees, bows down his head to the ground, and scatters dust with both hands on his own head and shoulders; neither is even the nearest relations of the lords exempted from this humiliating expression of their duty and obedience. The person, who receives an audience continues in this humble posture a great while, strewing himself with sand and crawling on his knees, till he approaches the great man; and when within two paces of his lord, he stops and begins to relate his case, still continuing on his knees, with his head down, and throwing sand an his head in token of great humility. All the time the lord scarcely appears to notice him and continues to discourse with other persons; and when the vassal has related his story, the lord gives him an answer in two words, with an arrogant aspect. Such is their affected pride and grandeur, and such the submission which is shewn him, which, in my opinion, proceeds from fear, as their lords, for every little fault they commit, take away their wives and children, and cause them to be sold as slaves.

Budomel treated me with the utmost attention and civility, and used to carry me in the evenings into a sort of mosque, where the Arab and Azanhaji priests, whom he had always about his person, used to say prayers. His manner on these occasions was as follows. Being entered into the mosque, which was in one of the courts belonging to his residence, and where he was attended by some of the principal negroes, he first stood some little time with his eyes lifted up as if it were to heaven, then, advancing two steps, he spoke a few words in a low tone; after which he stretched himself on the ground, which he kissed; the Azanhaji and the rest of his attendants doing the same. Then rising up, he repeated the same series of actions repeatedly, for ten or twelve times, which occupied about half an hour. When all was over, he asked my opinion of their manner of worship, and desired one to give an account of the nature of our religion. On this I told him, in the presence of all his doctors, that the religion of Mahomet was false, and the Romish the only true faith. This made the Arabs and Azanhaji extremely angry; but Budomel laughed on the occasion, and said, that he considered the religion of the Christians to be good, as God alone could have gifted them with so much riches and understanding. He added, however, that in his opinion the Mahometan law must be good also; and he believed that the Negroes were more sure of salvation than the Christians, because God was just, who had given a paradise to the Christians in this world, and would certainly give one to the Negroes in the next, as they possessed scarcely any good in this world in comparison. In all his discourse he shewed a good understanding, and took great pleasure in hearing the customs of the Christians described. I firmly believe he might easily have been converted to Christianity, had it not been from fear of losing his power, as I was often told by his nephew, with whom I lodged, and he took great delight in hearing me discourse of our religion. The table of Budomel, like all other lords and people of condition in this country, is supplied by his wives, in the same manner as has been already mentioned in regard to Zukholin, the king of Senegal; each wife sending him a certain number of dishes every day. He and the other lords eat on the ground, without any regularity or company, except the Arabs and Azanhaji, who are their teachers and priests, and one or two of their principal negro attendants. The inferior people eat in messes of ten or twelve each, having a basket full of victuals set in the midst, into which all put their hands at the same time. They eat but little at one meal, but repeat these four or five times a day.

[1] The text seems corrupted in giving so large a distance between the Senegal river and this country of king Budomel, as 800 miles to the south, or rather S. S. E. would carry us to what is called the grain, or windward coast of Guinea, in lat. 6° N. and, from the sequel, Cada Mosto does not appear to have passed Cape Verd till after quitting the country of Budomel. According to Brue, as quoted by Clarke, the king of Kayor or Kayhor was styled Damel. Kayor or Cayor appears on our maps above an hundred miles up the Senegal, and on its north side, which therefore can have no reference to the place in the text. I am disposed to believe that the distance in the text ought only to have been 80 miles, and that the territory of Budomel was in the country of the Jalofs, between the Senegal and Cape Verd, at the mouth of a small river, on which our charts place two towns, Masaye and Enibaul, in lat. 15° 20' N.--E.
[2] The grosso, or Venetian groat, is worth about three farthings.--Astl.


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