Yam Ceremonial, Ashanti, Gold Coast, early 19th cent.

Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window.
previous image return to thumbnails next image

If you are interested in using this image, please consult Acknowledging the Website.

Image Reference

Thomas E. Bowdich, Mission from Cape Coast Castle to Ashantee (London, 1819), between pp. 274 and 275.

Captioned, "The first day of the yam custom," this is a detailed colored engraving (drawn by Bowdich and engraved by R. Havell & Son) showing procession, king's retainers, onlookers. To the right, the king is seated ("in a chair of ebony and gold") under the "state umbrella" (with the elephant on top); the flags of several European nations (Britain, Holland, Denmark) are to the right and left of the king's throne; and European onlookers are shown seated under the blue umbrella somewhat to the right of the king. "The yam custom is annual . . . [it] is like the Saturnalia; neither theft, intrigue, or assault are punishable during the continuance, but the grossest liberty prevails, and each sex abandons itself to its passions" (Bowdich, p. 274; a detailed description of the ceremony, including the illustration, is given in chapter 5).