Cape Guardafun and the Mouth of the "Strait of Mecca"

Cape Fartach at center, Ortelius, 1570
 Cape Fartach at center, Ortelius, 1570.  (Source.)

Duarte Barbosa (Ramusio), 1515.


In this country and kingdom there is a cape which is called Cape Fartach, where the coast turns and makes a bend towards the said sea between north-east and east, and between this cape and that of Guardafun [1], is the mouth of the strait of Mecca, which runs north-west and south-east, and it is xl leagues in width, where all the ships pass for those voyages and to the Red Sea. 

Above Cape Guardafun, to the north-east by east, twenty-seven leagues off, is an island called Sacotora, with very high mountains, it is inhabited by dusky people, who are said to be Christians; but they are deficient in the teaching of the Christian law and baptism, and have got only the name of Christians: they have in their chapels crosses.

It was in former times a country of Christians, and the Christian doctrine was lost there on account of Christian navigation having ceased there; and the Moors say that this was an island of Amazons, who later in the course of time mixed with men, and something of this appears to be the case, since there the women administer property and manage it, without the husbands having a voice in the matter.

These people have a language of their own; they go without clothes, and only cover their nakedness with cotton cloths and skins: they have many cows and sheep, and date palms.

Their victuals are meat, milk,[30] and dates. In this island there is much dragon's blood and aloes of Socotra.

And the Moors of Fartach built in it a fortress, to subjugate them, and turn them Moors; and some of those that lived around the fortress were Moors, and served the Moors of the fort like their slaves, both in their persons and property.

A fleet of the King of Portugal arrived at this island, and took this fortress by force of arms from the Moors of Fartach, fighting with them: and they defended themselves much more vigorously than any men of these parts; so that they never would give themselves up, and all died in the fight, for none of them escaped; so that they are very good and daring fighting men.

The Captain of this fleet left troops and artillery in this fortress in order to keep it in the name of the King of Portugal.

And quite near to this island of Sacotora there are two other islands inhabited by coloured people and blacks, like the people of the Canary Islands, without law or knowledge, and they have no dealings with any other people.

In these two islands much amber and of good quality is found, and many shells of the valuable and precious kind in the mine, and much dragon's blood and aloes of Socotra; and there are large flocks of sheep and oxen.


1. From Wikipedia:

Cape Guardafui (SomaliGees Gardafuul, or Raas Caseyr, or Ras AsirArabicراس عسيرItalianCapo Guardafui) is a headland in the autonomous Puntland region in Somalia. Coextensive with Puntland's Gardafuul administrative province, it forms the geographical apex of the Horn of Africa. Its shore at 51°27'52"E is the second easternmost point on mainland Africa after Ras Hafun. The offshore oceanic strait Guardafui Channel (or Marinka Gardafuul) is named after it.

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