Wolof King, Senegal, 1787

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This record was last updated on 28 Oct 2010

Image Reference

René Claude Geoffroy de Villeneuve, L'Afrique, ou histoire, moeurs, usages et coutumes des africains: le Sénégal (Paris, 1814), vol. 3, facing p. 154. (Copy in Special Collections, University of Virginia Library)

Captioned “Bour-Salum, dans sa Case” (Bour [King] Salum [Saloum] in his House). Villeneuve visited King Sandéné of the Wolof kingdom/state of Salum/Saloum in 1787; he provides a detailed description of the visit, including the king’s demeanor and appearance, his clothing, jewelry, and surroundings. This engraving shows the king in his chamber, seated on a platform. The splendor of his dress, the author writes, was more elaborate than that of any other African sovereign. Sandéné wears a gold crown and elaborate tunic (both described in detail), has sandals on his feet; hanging from his neck by a silk cord is a large gold medallion, the shape and size of “a chicken’s egg,” The king is depicted smoking a long stem pipe (a reed attached to a pipe bowl; see also Bollat03). A scimitar with a gold hilt and richly ornamented shoulder strap is hanging from a wall; a saddle with silver trimmings is against another wall (pp. 149-155). Villeneuve lived in the Senegal region for about two years in the mid-to-late 1780s. The engravings in his book, he writes, were made from drawings that were mostly done on the spot during his African residence (vol. 1, pp. v-vi). (Thanks to Kandioura Drame for assistance.)