Transporting a European in a Hammock (Liberia?), mid-19th cent.

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This record was last updated on 08 Sep 2015

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 17).

Watercolor and ink. Labeled “Conveyance for One,” shows a European man (a missionary?) being carried in a hammock litter by two men, one smoking a pipe and carrying a spear, the other carrying a spear and an axe (characteristic of indigenous Liberian peoples; see image reference UVA02), and wearing a necklace which may be a protective amulet. Following behind is a woman carrying her baby on her back in what appears to be a small chair attached to a harness, and holding a spear; she wears earrings and ankle bracelets. A drum is also shown. The Glebo/Grebo, indigenous people of the Cape Palmas area, Liberia, traditionally carried their babies on their backs in a “small hamper” with a seat at the bottom; later they adopted the more common African practice of tying the baby to the mother’s back with cloth (Traditional History and Folklore of the Glebo Tribe [Bureau of Folkways/Folklore, Liberia, 1965], p. 119). A baby being carried on its mother’s back in a box-like chair is illustrated in George Schwab, Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland [Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1947], fig. 45a.) 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. An early photograph of Liberia that shows a European being carried in a hammock is published in Sir Harry Johnston, Liberia (1906), vol. 1, p. 486.