The Ancient Ryukyus / The Ryukyu Islands in the Age of Great Trade 5/7

The Portuguese View of the Ryukyus

During the Great Age of Trade the Ryukyus were active in Southeast Asia and came to be well known even with the European traders as the Lequios or the Goresu. The impression of the Portuguese who came into contact with the Ryukyuan traders is recorded in the following material.
The men of Lequios are called Gores. They are known by either of these names but Lequios is more commonly used. The nation is a monarchy and all are without religion. Their king is subordinate to the Chinese emperor and pays him tribute. Their island is large and heavily populated. They have a particular style of ships. They possess 3 or 4 Chinese style junks but these they have been bought from the Chinese. Aside from this they have no other kinds of ships. These people conduct business with China and Malacca. Sometimes they handle business together with the Chinese and also sometimes travel on their own to the harbor of Fukien and conduct business there. Fukien is on the Chinese mainland near Canton and about a day and night, by sea, from there. The Malay and Malaccans say there is no difference between Portuguese and the Lequios except they do not buy women as Portuguese do. .
As for their land, they are said to have but wheat, rice and their own liquor and meat. The seas there are abundant in fish. As we ourselves talk of Milan and those from there, the Chinese and other peoples talk of the Lequios. They are very truthful men. They do not buy slaves, nor would they sell one of their own men for the whole world. They would die over this. They are white men, better than the Chinese and more dignified. They sail to China and take merchandise that goes from Malacca to China, and from Japan. This is an island about 7 or 8 days by sea from their island. There they buy the gold and copper in exchange for goods. The Lequios are men who freely extend credit for their merchandise. And when they come to collect their payments, should they be lied to, they collect with sword in hand.
Tome Perez "Diary of Travel in the Countries of the East"
Excerpted form "The Great Age of Navigation" Vol. V (Japanese translation by Shigeru Ikuta, Eiichi Kato, and Shinjiro Nagaoka)

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