Journal of Antonio Pigafetta

14th of April, 1521

Sunday morning, the fourteenth day of April, we went on shore, forty men, of whom two were armed, who marched before us, following the standard of our king emperor. When we landed the ships discharged all their artillery, and from fear of it the people ran away in all directions. The captain and the king embraced one another, and then joyously we went near the scaffolding, where the captain and the king sat on two chairs, one covered with red, the other with violet velvet. The principal men sat on cushions, and the others on mats, after the fashion of the country. Then the captain began to speak to the king through the interpreter to incite him to the faith of Jesus Christ, and told him that if he wished to be a good Christian, as he had said the day before, that he must burn all the idols of his country, and, instead of them, place a cross, and that everyone should worship it every day on their knees, and their hands joined to heaven: and he showed him how he ought every day to make the sign of the cross. To that the king and all his people answered that they would obey the commands of the captain and do all that he told them. The captain took the king by the hand, and they walked about on the scaffolding, and when he was baptised he said that he would name him [183] Don Charles, as the emperor his sovereign was named; and he named the prince Don Fernand, after the brother of the emperor, and the King of Mazzava Jehan: to the Moor he gave the name of Christopher, and to the others each a name of his fancy. Thus, before mass, there were fifty men baptised. After mass had been heard the captain invited the king and his other principal men to dine with him, but he would not. He accompanied the captain, however, to the beach, and on his arrival there the ships fired all their artillery. Then, embracing one another, they took leave.

After dinner our chaplain and some of us went on shore to baptise the queen. She came with forty ladies, and we conducted them on to the scaffolding; then made her sit down on a cushion, and her women around her, until the priest was ready. During that time they showed her an image of our Lady, of wood, holding her little child, which was very well made, and a cross. When she saw it, she had a greater desire to be a Christian, and, asking for baptism, she was baptised and named Jehanne, like the mother of the emperor. The wife of the prince, daughter of this queen, had the name of Catherine, the Queen of Mazzava Isabella, and the others each their name. That day we baptised eight hundred persons of men, women, and children. The Queen was young and handsome, covered with a black and white sheet; she had the mouth and nails very red, and wore on her head a large hat made of leaves of palm, with a crown over it made of the same leaves, like that of the Pope. After that she begged us to give her the little wooden boy to put in the place of the idols.[184] This we did, and she went away. In the evening the king and queen, with several of their people, came to the sea beach, where the captain had some of the large artillery fired, in which they took great pleasure.[185] The captain and the king called one another brother.

At last, in eight days, all the inhabitants of this island were baptised, and some belonging to the neighbouring islands. In one of these we burned a village because the inhabitants would not obey either the king or us. There we planted a cross because the people were Gentiles: if they had been Moors, we should have erected a column, as a sign of their hardness of heart, because the Moors are more difficult to convert than the Gentiles. The captain-general went ashore every day to hear mass, to which there came many of the new Christians, to whom he explained various points of our religion. One day the queen came with all her state. She was preceded by three damsels, who carried in their hands three of her hats: she was dressed in black and white, with a large silk veil with gold stripes, which covered her head and shoulders. Very many women followed her, with their heads covered with a small veil, and a hat above that: the rest of their bodies and feet were naked, except a small wrapper of palm cloth which covered their natural parts. Their hair fell flowing over their shoulders. The queen, after making a bow to the altar, sat upon a cushion of embroidered silk, and the captain sprinkled over her and over some of her ladies rose water and musk, a perfume which pleases the ladies of this country very much. The captain on that occasion approved of the gift which I had made to the queen of the image of the Infant Jesus, and recommended her to put it in the place of her idols, because it was a remembrancer of the Son of God. She promised to do all this, and to keep it with much care.

In order that the king might be more respected and obeyed, the captain-general got him to come one day at the hour of mass with his silk robe, and summoned his two brothers, one named Bondara, who was the father of the prince, and the other named Cadaro, and some of his chief men, whose names were Simiut, Sibuaia, Sisacai,[186] Magalibe, and others whom it is unnecessary to name separately; and he made them all swear to be obedient to their king, whose hand they all of them kissed. He then asked the king to swear that he would always be obedient and faithful to the King of Spain, and he took the oath. Then the captain drew a sword before the image of the Virgin Mary, and said to the king that when such an oath had been taken by anyone, he should rather die than be wanting to his oath. After that he himself promised to be always faithful to him, swearing by the image of our Lady, by the life of the emperor his sovereign, and by the habit which he wore. He then made a present to the king of a velvet chair, and told him that wherever he went he should always have it carried before him by some of his attendants, and showed him the way in which it should be carried. The king told the captain that he would do all this on account of the affection which he bore him, of which he wished to give him a token, preparing for that purpose some jewels to present to him; these were two rather large gold rings for the ears, two others for the arms, and two for the ancles, all of them adorned with precious stones. The finest ornaments of the kings of these countries consist in these rings, for otherwise they go naked and barefooted, with only a piece of cloth from the waist to the knees.

The captain-general, who had informed the king and all those who had been baptised of the obligation they were under of burning their idols, which they had promised to do, seeing that they retained them and made them offerings of meat, reproved them severely for it. They thought to excuse themselves sufficiently by saying that they did not do that now on their own account, but for a sick person, for the idols to restore him his health. This sick man was a brother of the prince, and was reputed to be the most valiant and wise man in the island, and his illness was so severe that for four days he had not spoken. Having heard this, the captain, seized with zeal for religion, said that if they had a true faith in Jesus Christ, they should burn all the idols, and the sick man should be baptised, and he would be immediately cured, of which he was so certain that he consented to lose his head if the miracle did not take place. The king promised that all this should be done, because he truly believed in Jesus Christ. Then we arranged, with all the pomp that was possible, a procession from the place to the house of the sick man. We went there, and indeed found him unable to speak or to move. We baptised him, with two of his wives and ten girls. The captain then asked him how he felt, and he at once spoke, and said that by the grace of Our Lord he was well enough. This great miracle was done under our eyes. The captain, on hearing him speak, gave great thanks to God. He gave him a refreshing drink to take, and afterwards sent to his house a mattress, two sheets, a covering of yellow wool, and a cushion, and he continued to send him, until he was quite well, refreshing drinks of almonds, rosewater, rosoglio, and some sweet preserves.

On the fifth day the convalescent rose from his bed, and as soon as he could walk, he had burned, in the presence of the king and of all the people, an idol which some old women had concealed in his house. He also caused to be destroyed several temples constructed on the sea shore, in which people were accustomed to eat the meat offered to the idols. The inhabitants applauded this, and, shouting “Castile, Castile,” helped to throw them down, and declared that if God gave them life they would burn all the idols they could find, even if they were in the king’s own house.

These idols are made of wood, they are concave or hollowed out behind, they have the arms and legs spread out, and the feet turned upwards; they have a large face, with four very large teeth like those of a wild boar, and they are all painted.

Since I have spoken of the idols, it may please your illustrious Highness to have an account of the ceremony with which, in this island, they bless the pig. They begin by sounding some great drums (tamburi), they then bring three large dishes, two are filled with cakes of rice and cooked millet rolled up in leaves, and roast fish, in the third are Cambay clothes, and two strips of palm cloth. A cloth of Cambay is spread out on the ground: then two old women come, each of whom has in her hand a reed trumpet. They step upon the cloth and make an obeisance to the Sun: they then clothe themselves with the above mentioned cloths. The first of these puts on her head a handkerchief which she ties on her forehead so as to make two horns, and taking another handkerchief in her hand, dances and sounds her trumpet, and invokes the Sun. The second old woman takes one of the strips of palm cloth, and dances, and also sounds her trumpet; thus they dance and sound their trumpets for a short space of time, saying several things to the sun. The first old woman then drops the handkerchief she has in her hand, and takes the other strip of cloth, and both together sounding their trumpets, dance for a long time round the pig which is bound on the ground. The first one always speaks in a low tone to the sun, and the second answers her. The second old woman then presents a cup of wine to the first, who, whilst they both continue their address to the sun, brings the cup four or five times near her mouth as though going to drink, and meanwhile sprinkles the wine on the heart of the pig. She then gives up the cup, and receives a lance which she brandishes, whilst still dancing and reciting, and four or five times directs the lance at the pig’s heart, at last with a sudden and well aimed blow she pierces it through and through. She withdraws the lance from the wound, which is then closed and dressed with herbs. During the ceremony a torch is always burning, and the old woman who pierced the pig takes and puts it out with her mouth, the other old woman dips the end of her trumpet in the pig’s blood, and with it marks with blood the forehead of her husband, and of her companion, and then of the rest of the people. But they did not come and do this to us. That done the old women took off their robes, and ate what was in the two dishes, inviting only women to join them. After that they get the hair off the pig with fire. Only old women are able to consecrate the boar in this manner, and this animal is never eaten unless it is killed in this manner.

(Here follows an account of a custom, for a description of which see De Morga’s Philippine Islands, p. 304.)

When our people went on shore by day or by night, they always met with some one who invited them to eat and drink. They only half cook their victuals, and salt them very much, which makes them drink a great deal; and they drink much with reeds, sucking the wine from the vessels. Their repasts always last from five to six hours.

When one of their chiefs dies they always use the following funeral ceremonies, of which I was witness. The most respected women of the country came to the house of the deceased, in the midst of which lay the corpse in a chest; round which were stretched cords after the manner of an enclosure, and many branches of trees were tied to these cords: a strip of cotton was fastened to each of these branches like a pennant. Under these the women I have mentioned sat down covered with white cotton cloth. Each of them had a damsel who fanned her with a palm fan. The other women sat sadly round the room. Meanwhile a woman cut off by degrees the hair of the dead man with a knife: another who had been his principal wife, lay extended on him, with her mouth hands and feet on the mouth hands and feet of the dead man. When the first woman cut off the hair, she wept, and when she stopped cutting, she sung. Round the room there were many vases of porcelain, with embers in them, on which, from time to time, they threw myrrh, storax, and benzoin, which gave out a good and strong smell in the room. These ceremonies last for five or six days, during which the corpse is kept in the house, and I believe that they anoint it with oil of camphor to preserve it. They afterwards put it in a chest, closed with wooden bolts, and place it in an enclosed place covered with logs of wood. The islanders told us that every evening towards midnight, there used to come to the city, a black bird of the size of a crow, which perching on the houses whistled, and caused all the dogs to howl, and these double cries lasted four or five hours. They would never tell us the cause of that phenomenon, of which we also were witnesses.