Clothing Style, Serer Man, Senegal, 1850s

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Image Reference

P. David Boilat, Esquisses Sengelaises (Paris, 1853), plate 2 (Special Collections, University of Virginia Library)

The bearded man, a talented weaver according to the author, is shown with an earring and what appears to be an amulet (gris-gris) hanging from his neck; he belonged to the kingdom of Sine, one of the pre-colonial Wolof states (pp. 7-8). Boilat made his drawings from life; his 24 plates are explained in an accompanying text. Born in Senegal of a French father and a bi-racial mother ("metisse signare"), Boilat left Senegal at around the age of 13, was educated in France and became ordained as a Catholic priest. He returned to Senegal in 1842, lived there for ten years as an educator and, after returning to France, completed his Esquisses Senegalaises; he also authored the first comprehensive grammar of the Wolof language. He died in France in 1901, at the age of 84. (We thank Kandioura Drame for these biographical details.)