Did Early Transatlantic Explorers Drop This Mysterious Tablet in the Brazilian Jungle?

Did Early Transatlantic Explorers Drop This Mysterious Tablet in the Brazilian Jungle?

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In 1310, Malian explorers led by Mansa (King) Abubakari set sail to discover new lands across the Atlantic. A mysterious statuette was left by these ancient explorers in the Brazilian jungle. Eventually linked to the famed explorer Percy Fawcett, the artifact known as the Brazil Tablet provides intriguing evidence for a possible colony set up centuries ago by the forgotten seafarers.

Over the past few months we have learned much about these early Malians in the New World. William James Veall in Sea-Farers from the Levant: Do Ancient Inscriptions Rewrite History of the Americas? - Part 2, published on Ancient Origins, provides a detailed discussion of the Mande inscriptions left by Abubakari and his followers along the coast in South America. Veall’s research makes it clear that Malians were in South America. Dr. Winters has also shown on Ancient Origins that Malian explorers settled in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest - where they left numerous inscriptions, including the Elephant Slabs of Flora Vista.

Abu Bakr riding in his ships

Abu Bakr riding in his ships. (Leo and Diane Dillon)

Summary of the Evidence for a Malian Colony

The most startling evidence of Malians in Brazil is the "Brazil Tablet".  Col. P.H. Fawcett said the Tablet was found in an unexplored region near the Culuene river. The interesting thing about this Tablet was the fact it had "African pigment" and features.

The personage depicted on the Brazil Tablet was an elite of the Malian colony in Brazil. A few pieces of evidence suggesting a Manding origin for the Brazil Tablet are 1) the crown worn by the personage on the tablet; 2) the Manding inscriptions inscribed across the chest and feet of the figure; and 3) the evidence of breeches like the Manding style military uniform worn by the personage depicted on Fawcett’s Brazil Tablet.

The Brazil Tablet.

The Brazil Tablet. (Cristoph Roos)

A famous explorer of Brazil, Col. Percy H. Fawcett introduced the world to the 10 inch (25.4 cm) high black basalt statuette which some researchers call the Brazil Statuette. The statuette was given to Col. Fawcett by Sir H. Rader Haggard, the author of King Solomon’s Mine (1885).

Sir Haggard bought the figure in Brazil. Col. Fawcett was sure the figure was an artifact from the ancient cities the Portuguese explorers claimed they had found in Brazil because 14 of the 24 characters on the statuette are found on pre-Columbian Brazilian pottery and inscriptions Portuguese banderistas (bandits) found at ancient cities along the Amazon river.

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett in 1911.

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett in 1911. (Public Domain)

The Brazil Tablet has a figure holding an inscribed plaque across his chest. There are also inscriptions inscribed at the feet of the individual. Many of these inscriptions from ancient Brazil are published by Harold T. Wilkins in Mysteries of Ancient South America. Inscriptions in this category are also found at Piraicaba, Brazil. Another group of inscriptions were left in areas suitable for settlement.

Once a safe place was found for their settlement, the Manding colonists built stone cities or mound habitations. One of these lost cities was found in 1753 by banderistas. 

Identifying the Figure on the Brazil Tablet

Wilkins has reproduced many of the inscriptions found by the banderistas. Padre T. Menezes found similar inscriptions in the State of Bahia, Brazil at Marajo near the Para-oacu and Una rivers. Padre Menezes said they were engraved over a tomb. These inscriptions can be read and translated using the values of the signs found in Mande writing systems. They tell us that the personage buried in the Tomb was named Pe.

The personage on the Brazil Tablet appears to be a Malian elite. Richard Hull, in Munyakaye: African Civilization before the Bature, noted that “the Mali marines wore white caps on their heads and a white tunic.” E. Murphy, in History of African Civilization, said the uniform of the Malian military consisted of “sandals, loose fitting cotton breeches reaching down to the knees, a sleeveless tunic, and a white headdress of either cotton or leather, decorated with one or more feathers” (p.138).

Drawing of the Brazil tablet. (Author provided)

Drawing of the Brazil tablet. (Author provided)

The figure on the Brazil Tablet appears to wear a Malian sailor’s uniform. This personage was probably a Malian royal from Brazil. The figure wears a sleeveless tunic, skullcap, and breeches reaching down to the knees, as described by Europeans who visited the Mali Empire. Another interesting feature about this Tablet is the fact it had "African pigment" and features, according to people who have examined the artifact.

Similarities to Other Malian Settlements

In 1977, Dr. Winters published a decipherment of these inscriptions. It details the burial place and cause of death of a Mansa or Mande King. It appears that the Mansa on the Brazil Tablet was named Be. It tells us that Be was buried in a hemispherical tomb built near a cave. The traditional Mausoleum for Mande kings, like the tomb of Askia, were built like pyramids.

Askia’s Tomb.

Askia’s Tomb. (CC BY SA 3.0)

The Malians in South America also built their homes on top of mounds. Their major centers of habitation appear to have been Panama and Venezuela, in addition to Brazil. In Brazil, there are many megalithic structures that seem to follow the prototypes found in Africa. For example, in Alagoas we find many stone monuments like those found in West Africa, such as stone circles formed by rocks placed vertically on the ground. 

Detail of Cromlech of Calcoene, a megalithic stone structure located in Brazil.

Detail of Cromlech of Calcoene, a megalithic stone structure located in Brazil. (CC BY SA 3.0)

The habitation mounds in Brazil are called sambuquis. Some sambuquis have radio-carbon dates going back into pre-history, while many of the mounds where artifacts have been found are related to the cultures of Venezuela and have dates concurrent with the Malian voyages.

In conclusion, the ancient tombs and Brazil Tablet indicate that Malians probably landed in Brazil. The Brazilian statuette is a significant artifact because the elite person on the Brazil Tablet wears a uniform associated with Malian marines. The discovery of a tomb dedicated to Pe may in fact be the tomb of Be, the same individual depicted on the Brazil Tablet.

We can hypothesize that Abubakari and his expeditionary force probably left the city of Niani by canoe and traveled down the Niger to the Gulf of Guinea. From here the explorers were probably carried by the Guinea Current out into the Atlantic, where it met the South Equatorial Current. The South Equatorial Current may have then carried the Mali explorers to Brazil.

Muslims (some say including Mansa Abu Bakar II) meet with Native Americans.

Muslims (some say including Mansa Abu Bakar II) meet with Native Americans. (Historie Islamique)

Abubakari's ships would not be the last vessels to be carried to Brazil. For example, in 1500, Alvares Cabral's ship was captured by the North Equatorial Current and swiftly taken to that country as well.

Top Image: Detail of the Brazil Tablet. (Cristoph Roos) Background: Amazon rainforest in Brazil. (Public Domain)

By: Clyde Winters

References:

E. Murphy, History of African Civilization, (New York,1972) p.111.

Harold T. Wilkins, Mysteries of Ancient South America, (Secacus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1974), pp.40-45.

Winters, C.A. (1977). The influence of the Mande scripts on American ancient writing systems. Bulletin de l'IFAN, t.39, Ser.B, Number 2, 405-431. https://www.academia.edu/8456335/The_influence_of_the_Mande_scripts_on_American_ancient_Writing_systems

Winters, C.A. (1979). Manding writing in the New World--Part 1, Journal of African Civilization, 1 (1), 81-97.

Winters, Clyde. (2013). African Empires in Ancient America. CreateSpace

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