Funeral, Angola, 1786-87

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Image Reference

Louis de Grandpre, Voyage a la cote occidentale d'Afrique, fait dans les années 1786 et 1787 (Paris, 1801), vol. 1, facing p. 152. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Caption, "Vue de la montagne de Cabende, prise au nord, et Enterrement du masouc, Andris Poucouta, macaye" (View of the Cabinda mountain taken from the North, and Interment of the "masouc", Andris Poncouta, "macaye"). The author writes that a famous person died during his stay in the area, and that he was curious to see him interred. "The engraving shown will give a precise idea of these funerals. The coffin that carried him was at least 20 feet long by 14 feet high and 8 feet thick. It was surmounted by a small head which represented the dead man. They took a year to bury and mourn him . . . Such was its weight that no one would have been able to take him to his tomb, over one league from his house. Over 500 boys were on these ropes at a time; everything broke several times and it was an incredible task to take him to his interment spot. The wheels, of one single piece of wood, got stuck in the ground, so they had to use something for a path. It didn't move without difficulty, and the axles broke often" (pp. 152-53; our translation). Author was a French Naval officer who was mainly in the Angola region; engravings in his book were made from drawings done from his own observations in 1786-87.