Book VI, Chapter XVI
About a particular rubber or glue produced from trees in the governorate of Nicaragua in the Mainland and about a particular incense in the province of Venezuela.
Translated by Kendal Simmons ’23
To the reader, the random and inconsistent ordering of the chapters of Book VI, with their varied and disconnected topics, may seem a wild thing. From the contents of the last chapter about the extreme beauty and plumage of that bird from the Spice Islands, you will see, I have now jumped to talking about a particular rubber. However, if the reader is reminded of what was said in the preface or introduction of this book, he will find that this disorder is in fact order, making it so that not one thing is forgotten. Thus, I shall call this book the repository or archive of deposits.
In this governorate of Nicaragua, there is a province called Salteba where the Christians have a nice town or city called Granada, next to which is a large lake that the Indians call Ayuguabo and the Christians call Mar Dulce. Some of the trees there produce a rubber similar to white resin or glue and it smells very pleasant. It melts when placed under heat, forming, when melted, a unique glue that fixes broken things such as plates and bowls. Even for woodworkers, it is unique and binds very well; the pieces are more stable in the parts that have been secured by this rubber than any other part.
In the province of Venezuela in Tierra-Firme, certain trees produce rubber on top of their bark that appears to be natural and smells like incense when burned. The Indians of that land have grown accustomed to burning this incense or rubber when a lord or leader dies, using it as a perfume. They also place some amount of this incense in a basket and leave it in the grave. The Christians know that the Indian chiefs and leaders in many parts of the Mainland are often buried with their gold and jewels and so, in search of these jewels, they sometimes happen upon graves that contain those small baskets of incense. And although much time has passed since the burial, the incense is neither damaged nor corrupted.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University