Saturday the 25th of January, (1522), at 22 o’clock, we left the island of Mallua; and the following day, having run five leagues to the south-south-east, we arrived at a large island called Timor. I went ashore alone to speak to the head man of a village named Amaban, about his providing us with victuals. He offered me buffaloes, pigs, and goats, but when it was a question of the goods which he wanted in exchange, we could not come to an agreement, because he asked a great deal, and we had got very little to give. Then as we were constrained by hunger, we took the measure of detaining on board the ship the chief of another village named Balibo, who had come there in good faith with a son of his; and we imposed upon him as a ransom for recovering his liberty, to give six buffaloes, ten pigs, and ten goats. He, being much afraid that we should kill him, quickly gave orders to have all this brought to us; and as there were only five goats and two pigs they gave us instead an additional buffalo. We then sent him ashore with his son, and he was well pleased when we not only left him free, but also gave him some linen, some Indian cloths of silk and cotton, some hatchets, some Indian knives, scissors, looking-glasses, and some of our knives.
The chief man, whom I went to speak to first, has only women in his service; all were naked like those of the neighbouring islands, and wear in their ears small gold rings with tufts of silk hanging from them; on their arms they wear many rings of gold and copper, which often cover them up to the elbow. The men are naked like the women, and wear attached to their necks round plates of gold, and on their heads reed combs ornamented with gold rings. Some of them, instead of gold rings, wore in their ears dried necks of gourds.
In this island there are buffaloes, pigs, and goats, as has been said; there are also fowls and parrots of various colours. There is also rice, bananas, ginger, sugar canes, oranges, lemons, beans and almonds.
We had approached that part of the island where there were some villages with their chiefs or head men. On the other side of the island are the dwellings of four kings, and their districts are named Oibich, Lichsana, Suai, and Cabanaza. Oibich is the largest place. We were told that in a mountain near Cabanaza, very much gold is found, and its inhabitants buy whatever they want with small pieces of gold. All the trade in sandal wood and wax, carried on by the people of Malacca and Java, is done here; and indeed, we found here a junk which had come from Lozon to trade in sandal wood; for white sandal wood only grows in this country.
These people are Gentiles; we were told that when they go to cut sandal wood, the devil appears to them in various forms, and tells them that if they want anything they should ask him for it; but this apparition frightens them so much, that they are ill of it for some days. The sandal wood is cut at a certain phase of the moon, and it is asserted that if cut at another time it would not be good. The merchandise most fitting for bartering here for sandal wood is red cloth, linen, hatchets, iron, and nails.
This island is entirely inhabited. It extends a long way from east to west, and little from north to south. Its south latitude is in 10 deg., and the longitude 174 deg. 30 min. from the line of demarcation.
In all these islands that we visited in this archipelago, the evil of Saint Job prevailed, and more here than in any other place, where they call it “for franki”, that is to say, Portuguese illness.
We were told that at a day’s voyage, west-north-west from Timor, there was an island in which much cinnamon grows, called Ende; its inhabitants are Gentiles, and have no king. Near this are many others forming a series of islands as far as Java Major, and the Cape of Malacca. The names of these islands are Ende, Tanabuton, Crenochile, Bimacore, Azanaran, Main, Zubava, Lombok, Chorum, and Java Major, which by the inhabitants is not called Java but Jaoa.
In this island of Java are the largest towns; the principal of them is Magepaher the king of which, when he lived, was the greatest of all the kings of the neighbouring islands, and he was named Raja Patiunus Sunda. Much pepper grows there. The other towns are—Dahadama, Gagiamada, Minutarangam, Ciparafidain, Tuban, Cressi, and Cirubaya. At half a league from Java Major are the islands of Bali, called Java Minor, and Madura, these are of equal size.
They told us that in Java Major, it was the custom when one of the chief men died, to burn his body; and then his principal wife, adorned with garlands of flowers, has herself carried in a chair by four men throughout the town, with a tranquil and smiling countenance, whilst comforting her relations, who are afflicted because she is going to burn herself with the corpse of her husband, and encouraging them not to lament, saying to them, “I am going this evening to sup with my dear husband, and to sleep with him this night.” Afterwards, when close to the place of the pyre, she again turns towards the relations, and after again consoling them, casts herself into the fire and is burned. If she did not do this she would not be looked upon as an honourable woman, nor as a faithful wife.
Our old pilot related to us other extravagant things. He told us that the young men of Java …. and that in an island called Ocoloro, below Java Major, there are only women who become pregnant with the wind, and when they bring it forth, if the child is a male, they kill it, and if a female, they bring it up; and if any man visits their island, whenever they are able to kill him, they do so.
They also related to us that beyond Java Major, towards the north in the Gulf of China, which the ancients named Sinus Magnus, there is an enormous tree named Campanganghi, in which dwell certain birds named Garuda, so large that they take with their claws, and carry away flying, a buffalo, and even an elephant, to the place of the tree, which place is named Puzathaer. The fruit of this tree is called Buapanganghi, and is larger than a water melon. The Moors of Burné, whom we had with us in the ships, told as they had seen two of these birds, which had been sent to their king from the kingdom of Siam. No junk, or other vessel, can approach this tree within three or four leagues, on account of the great whirlpools which the water makes there. They related to us, moreover, how in a wonderful manner what is related of this tree became known, for a junk, having been carried there by the whirlpools, was broken up, and all the seamen perished, except a child who attached himself to a plank and was miraculously borne near the tree, upon which he mounted. There he placed himself under the wing of one of these birds, which was asleep, without its perceiving him, and next day the bird having taken flight carried him with it, and having seen a buffalo on the land, descended to take it; the child took advantage of the opportunity to come out from under its wing, and remained on the ground. In this manner the story of these birds and of the tree became known, and it was understood that those fruits which are frequently found in the sea came from that place.
We were told that there were in that kingdom, on the banks of the rivers, certain birds which feed on carrion, but which will not touch it unless another bird has first eaten its heart.
The Cape of Malacca is in 1 deg. 30 min. of S. latitude. To the east of that Cape are many cities and towns, of a few of which I will note the names—Singapola, which is at the Cape, Pahan, Kalantan, Patani, Bradlini, Benan, Lagon, Cheregigharan, Trombon, Joran, Ciu, Brabri, Banga, Iudia, Jandibum, Laun, Langonpifa. All these cities are constructed like ours, and are subject to the King of Siam who is named Siri Zacabedera, and who inhabits Iudia.
Beyond Siam is situated Camogia; its king is named Saret Zacabedera; next Chiempa, the king of which is named Raja Brahami Martu. There grows the rhubarb, and it is found in this manner: men go together in companies of twenty or twenty-five, to the woods, and at night ascend the trees, both to get out of the way of the lions, the elephants, and other wild beasts, and also to be able better to smell the odour of the rhubarb borne to them by the wind. In the morning they go to that quarter whence they have perceived that the odour comes, and seek for the rhubarb till they find it. This is the rotten wood of a large tree, which acquires its odour by putrefaction. The best part of the tree is the root, but the trunk is also good, which is called Calama.
The kingdom of Cocchi lies next, its sovereign is named Raja Seri Bummipala. After that follows Great China, the king of which is the greatest sovereign of the world, and is called Santoa raja. He has seventy crowned kings under his dependence; and some of these kings have ten or fifteen lesser kings dependent on them. The port of this kingdom is named Guantan, and among the many cities of this empire, two are the most important, namely Nankin and Comlaha, where the king usually resides.
He has four of his principal ministers close to his palace, at the four sides looking to the four cardinal winds, that is, one to the west, one to the east, to the south, and to the north. Each of these gives audience to those that come from his quarter. All the kings and lords of India major and superior obey this king, and in token of their vassalage, each is obliged to have in the middle of the principal place of his city the marble figure of a certain animal named Chinga, an animal more valiant than the lion; the figure of this animal is also engraved on the king’s seal, and all who wish to enter his port must carry the same emblem in wax or ivory.
If any lord is disobedient to him, he is flayed, and his skin, dried in the sun, salted, and stuffed, is placed in an eminent part of the public place, with the head inclined and the hands on the head in the attitude of doing zongu, that is obeisance to the king.
He is never visible to anybody; and if he wishes to see his people, he is carried about the palace on a peacock most skilfully manufactured, and very richly adorned, with six ladies dressed exactly like himself, so that he cannot be distinguished from them. He afterwards passes into a richly-adorned figure of a serpent called Naga, which has a large glass in the breast, through which he and the ladies are seen, but it is not possible to distinguish which is the king. He marries his sisters in order that his blood should not mix with that of others.
His palace has seven walls round it, and in each circle there are daily ten thousand men on guard, who are changed every twelve hours at the sound of a bell. Each wall has its gate, with a guard at each gate. At the first stands a man with a great scourge in his hand, named Satuhoran with Satubagan; at the second a dog called Satuhain; at the third, a man with an iron mace, called Satuhoran with pocumbecin; at the fourth, a man with a bow in his hand, called Satuhoran with anatpanan; at the fifth, a man with a lance, called Satuhoran, with tumach; at the sixth, a lion called Satuhorimau; at the seventh, two white elephants called Gagiapute.
The palace contains seventy-nine halls, in which dwell only the ladies destined to serve the king; there are always torches burning there. It is not possible to go round the palace in less than a day. In the upper part of it are four halls where the ministers go to speak to the king: one is ornamented with metal, both the pavement and the walls; another is all of silver, another all of gold, and the other is set with pearls and precious stones. The gold and other valuable things which are brought as tribute to the king are placed in these rooms; and when they are there deposited, they say, Let this be for the honour and glory of our Santoa Raja. All these things and many others relating to this king, were narrated to us by a Moor, who said that he had seen them.
The Chinese are white, and are clothed; they eat on tables like us. They have crosses, but it is not known why they have them.
It is from China that musk comes; the animal which produces it is a kind of cat, like the civet cat; it eats nothing but a certain soft wood, slender as a finger, named chamaru. To extract the musk from this animal they attach a leech to it, and leave it till it is full of blood, and when they see that it is well filled, they crush it, and collect the blood in a plate, and put it in the sun for four or five days, moistening it every day with urine. In this way it becomes perfect musk. Whoever keeps one of these cats pays a tribute to the king. The grains of musk which come to Europe as musk, are only small pieces of kid’s flesh soaked in real musk, and not the blood, since though it can be made into grains, it easily evaporates. The cat which produces musk is called castor, and the leech is called Linta.
Continuing along the coast of China, many nations are met with, and they are these: the Chienchi, who inhabit the islands in which they fish for pearls, and where the cinnamon grows. The Lecchii inhabit the mainland: the entrance to their port is traversed by a large rock, for which reason all the junks and vessels which wish to enter must take down their masts. The king of this country is called Moni. He has on the mainland twenty kings under him, and he is subject to the King of China: his capital is Baranaci, and here is situated Oriental Cathay. Han is a high and cold island, where there is copper, silver, pearls, and silk; its king is named Raja Zotra. There is also Miliaula, the king of which is named Raja Quetischeniga, and Guio, the king of which is Raja Sudacali. These places are cold and on the mainland. Friagonba and Trianga are two islands which also produce copper, silver, pearls, and silk; their king is Raja Ruzon. Bassi is a low land on the continent. There come afterwards Sumbdit and Pradit, two islands very rich in gold, where the men wear a large ring of gold round the ancle. In the neighbouring mountains dwell people who kill their parents when they are old, so that they may cease from travail. All the people of these countries are Gentiles.