Journal of Antonio Pigafetta

31st of March, 1521

On Sunday, the last day of March, and feast of Easter, the captain sent the chaplain ashore early to say mass, and the interpreter went with him to tell the king that they were not coming on shore to dine with him, but only to hear the mass. The king hearing that sent two dead pigs. When it was time for saying mass the captain went ashore with fifty men, not with their arms, but only with their swords, and dressed as well as each one was able to dress, and before the boats reached the shore our ships fired six cannon shots as a sign of peace. At our landing the two kings were there, and received our captain in a friendly manner, and placed him between them, and then we went to the place prepared for saying mass, which was not far from the shore. Before the mass began the captain threw a quantity of musk rose water on those two kings, and when the offertory of the mass came, the two kings went to kiss the cross like us, but they offered nothing, and at the elevation of the body of our Lord they were kneeling like us, and adored our Lord with joined hands. The ships fired all their artillery at the elevation of the body of our Lord. After mass had been said each one did the duty of a Christian, receiving our Lord. After that the captain had some sword-play by his people, which gave great pleasure to the kings. Then he had a cross brought, with the nails and crown, to which the kings made reverence, and the captain had them told that these things which he showed them were the sign of the emperor his lord and master, from whom he had charge and commandment to place it in all places where he might go or pass by. He told them that he wished to place it in their country for their profit, because if there came afterwards any ships from Spain to those islands, on seeing this cross, they would know that we had been there, and therefore they would not cause them any displeasure to their persons nor their goods; and if they took any of their people, on showing them this sign, they would at once let them go. Besides this, the captain told them that it was necessary that this cross should be placed on the summit of the highest mountain in their country, so that seeing it every day they might adore it, and that if they did thus, neither thunder, lightning, nor the tempest could do them hurt. The kings thanked the captain, and said they would do it willingly. Then he asked whether they were Moors or Gentiles, and in what they believed. They answered that they did not perform any other adoration, but only joined their hands, looking up to heaven, and that they called their God, Aba. Hearing this, the captain was very joyful, on seeing that, the first king raised his hands to the sky and said that he wished it were possible for him to be able to show the affection which he felt towards him. The interpreter asked him for what reason there was so little to eat in that place, to which the king replied that he did not reside in that place except when he came to hunt and to see his brother, but that he lived in another island where he had all his family. Then the captain asked him if he had any enemies who made war upon him, and that if he had any he would go and defeat them with his men and ships, to put them under his obedience. The king thanked him, and answered that there were two islands the inhabitants of which were his enemies; however, that for the present it was not the time to attack them. The captain therefore said to him that if God permitted him to return another time to this country, he would bring so many men that he would put them by force under his obedience. Then he bade the interpreter tell them that he was going away to dine, and after that he would return to place the cross on the summit of the mountain. The two kings said they were content, and on that they embraced the captain, and he separated from them.

After dinner we all returned in our dress coats[162], and we went together with the two kings to the middle of the highest mountain we could find, and there the cross was planted. After that the two kings and the captain rested themselves; and, while conversing, I asked where was the best port for obtaining victuals. They replied that there were three, that is to say, Ceylon, Zzubu,[163] and Calaghan, but that Zzubu was the largest and of the most traffic. Then the kings offered to give him pilots to go to those ports, for which he thanked them, and deliberated to go there, for his ill-fortune[164] would have it so. After the cross had been planted on that mountain, each one said the Paternoster and Ave Maria, and adored it, and the kings did the like. Then we went down below to where their boats were. There the kings had brought some of the fruit called cocos and other things to make a collation and to refresh us. The captain, being desirous to depart the next day in the morning, asked the king for the pilots to conduct us to the above-mentioned ports, promising him to treat them like themselves, and that he would leave one of his own men as a hostage. The first king said that he would go himself and conduct him to this port, and be his pilots but that he should wait two days, until he had had his rice gathered in and done other things which he had to do, begging him to lend him some of his men so as to get done sooner. This the captain agreed to.

This kind of people are gentle, and go naked, and are painted. They wear a piece of cloth made from a tree, like a linen cloth, round their body to cover their natural parts: they are great drinkers. The women are dressed in tree cloth from their waists downwards; their hair is black, and reaches down to the ground; they wear certain gold rings in their ears. These people chew most of their time a fruit which they call areca, which is something of the shape of a pear; they cut it in four quarters, and after they have chewed it for a long time they spit it out, from which afterwards they have their mouths very red. They find themselves the better from the use of this fruit because it refreshes them much, for this country is very hot, so that they could not live without it. In this island there is a great quantity of dogs, cats, pigs, fowls, and goats, rice, ginger, cocos, figs, oranges, lemons, millet, wax, and gold mines. This island is in nine degrees and two-thirds north latitude, and one hundred and sixty-two longitude[165] from the line of demarcation: it is twenty-five leagues distant from the other island where we found the two fountains of fresh water. This island is named Mazzava.

We remained seven days in this place; then we took the tack of Maestral, passing through the midst of five isles, that is to say, Ceylon, Bohol, Canighan, Baibai, and Satighan.[166] In this island of Satighan is a kind of bird [167] called Barbastigly, which are as large as eagles. Of these we killed only one, because it was late. We ate it, and it had the taste of a fowl. There are also in this island doves, tortoises, parrots, and certain black birds as large as a fowl, with a long tail. They lay eggs as large as those of a goose. These they put a good arm’s length[168] under the sand in the sun, where they are hatched by the great heat which the heated sand gives out; and when these birds are hatched they push up[169] the sand and come out. These eggs are good to eat. From this island of Mazzabua[170] to that of Satighan there are twenty leagues, and on leaving Satighan we went by the west; but the King of Mazzabua could not follow us; therefore we waited for him near three islands, that is to say. Polo, Ticobon, and Pozzon. When the king arrived he was much astonished at our navigation, the captain-general bade him come on board his ship with some of his principal people, at which they were much pleased. Thus we went to Zzubu, which is fifteen leagues off from Satighan.