Canoe Construction and Use, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.


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Image Reference
DAP6

Source
D. O. Dapper, Description de l'Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686;1st ed., 1668), p. 297. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Comments
Shows (right front) two Africans making a dugout canoe; several others paddling a canoe in a river (left); in background two men are crossing a bridge. Noting that "the canoes of the Negroes are distinctive enough that they deserve being described," Dapper details the techniques of their construction (see pp. 297-98; 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).