Clothing Styles, Kingdom of Loango, late 17th cent.

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Image Reference

D. O. Dapper, Description de l'Afrique . . . Traduite du Flamand (Amsterdam,1686; 1st ed., 1668), p. 324. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Shows men in full dress, some with spears, bows, swords, etc.; some of women carry children on their backs. "All the clothes of Louango are made from materials of palm leaves . . . . Men wear long robes from the waist to their feet, the body above is uncovered"(Dapper, p. 324; our translation); a detailed description of clothing materials and styles is given. In an informed discussion of Dapper as an historical source, Adam Jones writes "there is virtually no evidence" that Dapper "took much interest in what sort of visual material was to accompany his text," and that it was the publisher, Van Meurs, "who probably did all the engraving himself." With respect to the plates, in particular, Jones concludes: "For those interested in seventeenth-century black Africa rather than in the history of European perceptions, few of the plates showing human beings and artefacts are of any value . . . . [and] originated solely from Van Meurs' imagination" (Decompiling Dapper: A Preliminary Search for Evidence (History in Africa [1990], vol. 17, pp. 187-190).