Woman Playing Warri/Wari, West Africa, 1780s


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This record was last updated on 27 Dec 2012

Image Reference
Golbery1

Source
Sylvain-Meinrad-Xavier de Golbéry, Travels in Africa, performed during the years 1785, 1786, and 1787, in the western countries of that continent . . . translated from the French, without abridgement, by Francis Blagdon (London, 1802 [1st published, Paris, 1802]), Vol. 2, facing p. 423.

Comments
Caption: "A young Negress, studying [learning] the game of ouri" [warri]. Golbéry (1742-1822), a captain in the French military, was requested by the new governor of Senegal to explore the territory and provide economic, social, and political information that could be useful to the colonial government. In describing this engraving, he wrote: "The young Foulha, Manding, and Jolof Negresses are passionately fond of a game, which they call ouri; it is a complex [complicated] game, which they study attentively, and pride themselves on playing with propriety [and are proud when they play it with dexterity]." A long description is given of this widespread West African board game which the author finds to be "more complex than draughts; and yet [it] is played by women only" (pp. 422-424). Another translation of this work (London, 1803), by William Mudford, with some variations in wording, contains the same image but reversed; differences between the two translations are given in brackets [ ] above.