Primary Source


  • A stone monument with a cross on top.


Annotation: Between 1482 and 1484 the Portuguese brought three pillars (or padraos) with them in their explorations of western Africa and placed them along the Congo River. The inscription: “ In the era of 6681 years from the creation of the world, 1482 years since the birth of Our Lord Jesus, the most High and Excellent and Mighty Prince, King D. João II of Portugal, sent Diogo Cão squire of his House to discover this land and place these pillars” is somewhat ambiguous and yet it clearly was part of Diogo’s expectation to place the pillars and in so doing to draws attention to the greatness of the Portuguese. As a symbol, the pillar illustrates the first contact between different peoples and its meaning could be interpreted differently depending on whether one was Portuguese or one was Kongolese.

Replica of a padrão placed by Diogo Cão on Cape Cross, Namibia.


Photo by Rui Ornelas via Wikimedia Commons

How to Cite This Source
Padrão in World History Commons,