An early Portuguese description of Brazil, 
from Samuel Purchas, 
Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes
(London, 1625), volume IV.


Reader, I here present thee the exactest Treatise of Brasil which I have seen written by any man . . . It was written (it seemeth) by a Portuguese friar (or Jesuite)which had lived thirtie yeares in those parts, from whom (much against his will) the written Book was taken by one Frances Cooke of Dartmouth in a voyage outward bound for Brasil, An. 1601, who sold the same to Master Hacket for twenty shillings; by whose procurement it was translated out of Portugall into English. . . 

It seemeth that this people hath no knowledge of the beginning and creation of the world, but of the deluge it seemeth they have some notice: but as they have no writing nor characters such notice is obscure: for they say that the waters drowned all men, and that one onely escaped upon a Ianipata with a sister of his that was with child, and that from these two they have their beginning, and from thence began their multiplying and increase.

This people hath not any knowledge of their Creator, not of any thing of heaven, nor if there be any pain nor glory after this life. . . .

This Nation hath no monie wherewith to satisfie the services that are done to them, but they live with bartering one thing for another. . . .

And the children are joyfull and given to play, and they play with such quietnesse and friendship, that among them is no bad name heard, or any scurrilitie, or calling any nickname one to anothers Father or Mother; and seldom doe they disagree when they play, nor disorder themselves for any thing, and verie seldome do they strike or fight one with another.  The Fathers doe teach them from their cradles to dance and sing, and their dancings are not sundrie changes, but a continual stamping with the feet standing still, or going round about, or stirring their body or their head, and they doe it all by such compass, and pleasantnesse as can be defined. . . .

Before they had any knowledge of the Portuguals, they used tools and instruments of stone, bone, wood, Canes, and teeth of Beasts, etc. and with these they hewed down great Woods, with wedges of stones, helping themselves with fire: and they digged also the ground with certain sharpe stakes, and they made their Brooches, Beades of Wilkes, Bowes, and Arrowes, as well as now having instruments of iron, but they spent a long time in making of whatever thing; wherefore they esteeme the iron verie much, for the facilitie or ease which they find in making their things with it. And this is the reason wherefore they are glad of Commerce with the Portuguals or white men.