Clothing Styles, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.


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Image Reference
DAP8

Source
D. O. Dapper, Description de l'Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686; 1st ed., 1668), p. 305. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Comments
"Common people wear three or four girdles; the first goes down to the knees, the second stops a little higher, and the 3rd and 4th still higher. For the most part their clothing is superb, and is made of strong and fine cotton cloth embroidered with gold. Besides silk girdles, gentlemen also wear a cape of the same cloth, but they go barefoot as do the others" (Dapper, p. 304; 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).