Large Canoe and Village Scene (Liberia?), mid-19th cent.

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This record was last updated on 09 Sep 2015

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 11).

Ink, watercolor and crayon. The foreground shows a large canoe paddled by five kneeling men, labeled “kroomen” (i.e., Kru) and a European/American sailing vessel labeled “slaver cutter.” Since acquiring a full shipload of captive Africans could take a long time, slaving vessels or slavers sometimes used smaller vessels such as cutters, which were dispatched from the main ship; captives were then brought back to the slaver in these smaller vessels. The men seated in the canoe are paddling in a characteristically Kru style, and the paddles are similar to those of Liberian Kru in the 19th century (e. g., Harry Johnston, Liberia [Dodd, Mead, 1906], pp. 496, 940; George Brooks, The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century [Newark, Delaware, 1972]). The village in the background, perhaps a mission station or settlement of the American Colonization Society, is depicted with over a dozen rectangular (weatherboard?) houses with pitched roofs arranged in two rows. This is one of 22 works displayed on this website of West African coastal scenes -- out of a total of 32 -- held by University of Virginia Library. None of the works is dated or signed, and they seem to have been done by at least two different persons (perhaps associated with missionary activities in West Africa and/or the American Colonization Society). See also other image references “UVA” on this website.