21st of December, 1521

Saturday, the 2lst December, day of St. Thomas the Apostle, the King of Tadore came to the ships and brought us the two pilots, whom we had already paid, to conduct us out of these islands. They said that the weather was then good for sailing at once, but, having to wait for the letters of our companions who remained behind, and who wished to write to Spain, we could not sail till midday. Then the ships took leave of one another by a mutual discharge of bombards. Our men accompanied us for some distance with their boat, and then with tears and embraces we separated. Juan Carvalho remained at Tadore with fifty-three of our men; we were forty-seven Europeans and thirteen Indians.

The king’s governor[248] came with us as far as the island of Mare: we had hardly arrived there when four prahus laden with wood came up, which in less than an hour we got on board. We then took the south-west course.

In all the above-mentioned islands of Maluco are to be found cloves, ginger, sagu, which is their bread made of wood, rice, cocoa-nuts, plantains, almonds larger than ours, sweet and bitter pomegranates, sugar-canes, oil of cocoa and of sesame, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, comilicai,[249] which is a refreshing fruit the size of a water-melon, another fruit like a peach called guave, and other eatable vegetables. They also have goats and fowls, honey produced by bees not larger than ants, which make their hives in trunks of trees. There are also parrots of many kinds, and amongst them there are white ones called Catara, and red ones called Nori, which are the most sought after, not so much for the beauty of their plumage, as because they talk more clearly. One of these is sold for a bahar of cloves.

It is hardly fifty years since the Moors conquered Maluco and dwelt there. Before that, these islands were inhabited only by Gentiles, who did not care for the cloves. There are still some families of them who have taken refuge in the mountains, where the cloves grow.

The island of Tadore is in 0 deg. 27 min. North latitude, and 161 deg. west of the line of demarcation;[250] it is 9 deg. 30 min. distant from the first island of this archipelago, named Zamal, to the south-east and a quarter south. The island of Tarenate is in 0 deg. 40 min. of N. latitude. Mutir is exactly under the equinoctial line. Machian is in 0 deg. 15 min. S. latitude, and Bachian in 1 deg. of the same latitude. Tarenate, Tadore, Mutir, and Machian, are like four high and pointed mountains,[251] upon which the clove trees grow. Bachian is not visible from these four islands, but it is a larger island than any of those. Its clove mountain is not so high nor so pointed as those of the other islands, but it has a larger base.


(Book IV of the Milan Edition.)

Return from the Moluccas to Spain

Pursuing our voyage, after having taken in wood at the islet of Mare, we passed between the following islands:—Caioan, Laigoma, Sico, Giogi, Cafi, Laboan [252]Toliman, Titameti, Bachian, Latalata, Jabobi, Mata, and Batutiga. They told us that in the island of Cafi the people were small and dwarfed like the Pigmies; they have been subjected by force by the King of Tadore. We passed outside of Batutiga to the west, and we steered between west and south-west, and we discovered some islets to the south, on which account the pilots of Maluco said it would be better to cast anchor so as not to drift at night among many islets and shoals. We, therefore, altered our course to south-east, and went to an island situated in 2 deg. S. latitude, and fifty-three leagues from Maluco.

This island is named Sulach;[253] its inhabitants are Gentiles, and have not got a king. They eat human flesh; both men and women go naked, except a piece of the bark of a tree of two fingers’ breath before their natural parts. There are many other islands around here inhabited by anthropophagi. These are the names of some of them:—Silan, Noselao, Biga, Atulabaon, Leitimor, Tenetum, Gonda, Kailaruru, Mandan and Benaia.[254] We left to the east the islands named Lamatola and Tenetum.

Having run ten leagues from Sulach in the same direction, we went to a rather large island named Buru, in which we found plenty of victuals, such as pigs, goats, fowls, sugar-canes, cocoa-nuts, sagu, a certain food of theirs made of bananas called kanali,and chiacare, which here they call Nanga.[255]The chiacare are fruit like water-melons, but knotty on the outside; inside they have some small red fruit like plums, they have not got a stone in the middle, but instead of that have a certain pith like a white bean, but larger, they are tender to eat like chestnuts. We found here another fruit which externally is like a pine cone, and it is yellow, but white inside; on cutting, it is something like a pear, but much softer and better tasted. Here it is called comilicai. The inhabitants of this island are Gentiles, and have no king: they go naked like those of Sulach. The island of Buru is in 3 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and seventy-five leagues from Maluco.

To the east of this island, at a distance of ten leagues, there is another one larger, and which borders on Giailolo, and it is named Ambon.[256] It is inhabited by Moors and Gentiles, but the former are on the sea shore, and the others in the interior; these are also anthropophagi. The products of this island are the same as those of Buru. Between Buru and Ambon, there are three islands surrounded by reefs named Vudia, Kailaruru and Benaia. To the south of Buru, at a distance of four leagues, is another small island named Ambalao.

At thirty-five leagues from Buru, south and a quarter south-west, is Bandan, with thirteen other islands. In six of them grow mace and nutmeg. Zoroboa is the largest of them, Chelicel, Saniananpi, Pulai, Puluru, and Rasoghin, the other six are Unuveru, Pulanbaracan, Lailaca, Mamica, Man, and Meut. In these islands nutmegs are not found, but only sagu, rice, cocoanuts, bananas, and other fruits, and they are near one another. The inhabitants of these are Moors, and have no king. Bandan is in 6 deg. of S. latitude, and 163 deg. 30 min. longitude from the line of demarcation. As this island was a little out of our course, we did not go to it.

Leaving the island of Buru in the direction south-west and a quarter west, about eight degrees of latitude,[257]we arrived at three other islands near each other named Zolot,[258] Nocemamor, and Galian. Whilst we sailed amidst these islands, a great storm fell upon us, for which we made a vow of a pilgrimage to our Lady della Guida. We put the ship before the storm and made for a rather high island, which afterwards we learned was named Mallua, but before we could reach it, we had to struggle much with the squalls of wind which descended from the mountains and with the currents. The inhabitants of this island are savages, and more beasts than men; they eat human flesh; they go naked, except the usual piece of bark to cover their natural parts. But when they go to fight they wear on the back, the breast, and the flanks, pieces of buffalo hide, ornamented with shells,[259] and boars’ tusks, and tails of goat skins, hanging before and behind. They wear the hair raised high up by means of cane combs with long teeth, which go through it. They wrap up their beards with leaves, and enclose them in cases or tubes of reed, a thing which seemed to us very ridiculous. In one word these were the ugliest men we had seen in these Indies. Both their bows and arrows are made of reeds, and they carry their food in bags made of leaves. When their women saw us they came towards us with their bows drawn, but when we had given them some presents we soon became friends.

We passed fifteen days in this island in caulking the ship whose sides had suffered. We found here goats, fowls, wax, cocoanuts, and pepper. For a pound of old iron they gave fifteen pounds of wax or of pepper.

There are two kinds of pepper here, the long and the round. The long pepper is like the flower of the hazel tree in winter; its plant is like ivy, and like it clings to trees; its leaves are like those of the mulberry tree; it is called luli. The round pepper grows like the other, but its fruit is in ears like Indian corn, and the grains are pulled off in the same manner; it is called lada. The fields here are full of pepper plants.

Here we took a man to conduct us to some island where we could find plenty of victuals.

The island of Mallua is in 8 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and 169 deg. 40 min. longitude from the line of demarcation.

The old pilot from Maluco related to us, whilst sailing, that in this neighbourhood there was an island named Aruchete, the inhabitants of which, men and women, are not more than one cubit high, and they have ears as large and as long as themselves, so that when they lie down one serves them for a mattress, and with the other they cover themselves.[260] They are shorn and naked, their voices are shrill, and they run very swiftly. They dwell under ground, live on fish and a certain substance which grows between the bark and the wood of a tree, which is white and round like coriander comfits, and which is named ambulon. We would have gone there willingly, but the shoals and currents did not allow of it.


26th of November, 1521

Tuesday the 26th November the King came to tell us that for us he had done what a King never does here, that was to leave his own island; but he had gone to show the affection he had for the King of Castile, and because when we had got our cargo, we could sooner return to Spain, and afterwards return with greater forces to avenge the death of his father, who had been killed in an island called Buru, and his body had been thrown into the sea.

He afterwards added that it was the custom in Tadore, when the first cloves were embarked in a vessel, or in junks, that the king gave a feast to their crews and merchants, and they made prayers to God to bring them in safety to their port. He wished to do the same for us, and at the same time the feast would serve for the King of Bachian, who was coming with a brother of his to pay him a visit, and on that account he had the streets cleaned. Hearing this, some of us began to suspect some treachery; all the more because we learned that, not long before, three Portuguese of the companions of Francisco Serrano had been assassinated at the place where we got water, by some of the islanders concealed in the thickets; also we often saw them whispering with the Indians whom we had made prisoners. Therefore, although some of us were inclined to accept the invitation, we concluded not to betake ourselves thither, recollecting the unfortunate feast given to our men in the island of Zubu, and we decided on a speedy departure.

Meantime a message was sent to the king to thank him, and to ask him to come soon to the ships, where we would deliver to him the four men we had promised him, with the goods which we had destined for him. The King came soon, and on entering the ship, as though he had observed that we had doubts, said that he entered with as much confidence and security as into his own house. He made us feel how much he was displeased by our unexpected haste to depart, since ships used to employ thirty days in taking in their cargo; and that if he had made a journey out of the island, he certainly had not done it to injure us but to assist us, so that we might more speedily obtain the cloves which we required, and a part of which we were still expecting. He added that it was not then a fit season for navigating in those seas, on account of the many shoals near Bandan, and besides it would be a likely thing that we should fall in with some Portuguese ships. When, in spite of what he had said, he saw we were still determined on going away, he said that we must take back all that we had given him, since the Kings, his neighbours, would consider him as a man without reputation for receiving so many presents in the name of so great a king as the King of Spain, and he had given nothing in return, and perhaps they would suspect that the Spaniards had gone away in such haste for fear of some treachery, so that they would fix upon him the name of traitor. Then, in order that no suspicion might remain in our minds of his honesty and good faith, he ordered his Koran to be brought, and kissing it devoutly he placed it four or five times on his head whilst whispering certain words to himself, with a rite which they call Zambehan,[241] and he said in the presence of us all, that he swore by Allah and by the Koran, which he held in his hand, that he would ever be faithful and a friend to the King of Spain. He said all this almost weeping and with so great an appearance of sincerity and cordiality, that we promised to prolong our sojourn at Tadore for another fortnight. We then gave him the Royal signature and standard. We learned later, by a sure and certain channel, that some of the chiefs of those islands had indeed counselled him to kill all of us, by which thing he would have acquired for himself great merit with the Portuguese, who would have given him good assistance to avenge himself on the King of Bachian, but he, loyal and constant to the King of Spain, with whom he had sworn a peace, had answered that he would never do such an act on any account whatever.