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William Allen, Picturesque views on the river Niger, sketched during Lander's last visit in 1832-33, by Commander William Allen (London, 1840), facing p. 15 (bottom). (Copy in Library of Congress, Rare Book/Special Collections)
Caption, "the interior of the chief malen's house." Allen had received a message that "Ibrahim, the head Malem, wished to see me." Following his guide, he "entered a court-yard filled with people. On the opposite side was a square building having more pretensions to architectural design, than any I had seen. On each side of a low doorway, were placed a drawn dagger and a book. I entered . . . a large apartment dimly lighted and filled with people. It was divided by a wall through which were three openings; that in the center being an archway ornamented with a moulding. Through one of these I was led to a venerable man, who sat alone on a white bull's hide, his elbow resting on a cushion . . . . He gave me to understand that he was the High Priest among the Mahomedans; and expressed himself highly gratified at my visit . . . .The courty-yard was filled with devout loungers, who attended the Malem's levee . . . . Other courts on each side were occupied by the numerous wives, children, and slaves of the Patriarch...." (Allen, p. 15).