A King and his Judicial Court, Sierra Leone, 1764

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Image Reference

M. Chambon, Le commerce de l'Amerique par Marseille (Avignon, 1764), vol. 2, plate X, facing p. 166. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

In a chapter on the trade of West Africa, various regions are described, including "Sierra Liona" [sic]. Based on unidentified sources the author gives an overview of the people and customs of the area. For this image, titled "Roy qui rend la justice" (King who dispenses/administers justice), the text notes that the people in this area only enslave people who they capture in warfare and criminals or evil-doers. The king is the chief judge; he chooses several counselors to help him decide different cases among his subjects who plead their own causes/or defend themselves. . . but so that the judges cannot show favoritism, the litigants are required to wear masks over their faces (pp. 166-67; our translation).