Funeral and Divination, Jamaica, 1843


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Image Reference
Bilby-1

Source
James M. Phillippo, Jamaica: its past and present state (London, 1843), facing p. 244.

Comments
Caption, "Heathen Practices at Funerals," depicts post-mortem divination practices with the remains of the deceased used to determine the causes of death, among other questions; in this case, the entire body is used for divination. Phillippo provides a detailed but very ethnocentric description of the West African custom of "carrying the corpse." Although this engraving was published approximately ten years after the period of slavery in Jamaica, starting in 1823 Phillippo was a Baptist missionary on the island and resided there for twenty years; it is quite likely that the scene depicted reflects the later slave period as well. (We are grateful to Ken Bilby for his assistance with this illustration and for providing a slide of it).