Funeral, Senegambia, late 17th cent.


Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window.
previous image return to thumbnails next image

If you are interested in using this image, please consult Acknowledging the Website.

Image Reference
DAP14

Source
D. O. Dapper, Description de l'Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686; 1st ed., 1668), p. 235. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Comments
"When someone dies, all his relatives come to mourn and attend the funeral. The body is preceded by drummers . . . and followed by the relatives, each one in his row, the men first, the women following. They bury his clothing with him in a shallow grave that they cover with a big earthen mound" (Dapper, p. 235; our translation). In an informed discussion of Dapper as an historical source, Adam Jones writes "there is virtually no evidence" that Dapper "took much interest in what sort of visual material was to accompany his text," and that it was the publisher, Van Meurs, "who probably did all the engraving himself." With respect to the plates, in particular, Jones concludes: "For those interested in seventeenth-century black Africa rather than in the history of European perceptions, few of the plates showing human beings and artefacts are of any value . . . . [and] originated solely from Van Meurs' imagination . . . .[although] they have been used as historical evidence in modern works" (Decompiling Dapper: A Preliminary Search for Evidence (History in Africa [1990], vol. 17, pp. 187-190).