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


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Image Reference
bow-yam

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

Comments
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).