Funeral, Gold Coast, early 1600s

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This record was last updated on 23 Feb 2017

Image Reference

Edward Cavendish Drake, A New Universal Collection of Authentic and Entertaining Voyages and Travels, from the earliest accounts to the present time (London, 1770; facing p. 521. First published, London 1767)

In Drake's compilation of early travel accounts, this engraving is captioned "The Ceremony of a Negro Funeral"; it accompanies Francis Moore's account of his "Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa" (pp. 519-532). Other versions of this illustration are in Bernard Picart, Ceremonies et Coutumes Religieuses de tous les Peuples Du Monde (Amsterdam, 1789), vol. 1, plate 67, facing p. 131; Thomas Astley, ed., A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (London, 1745-47; vol. 2): and the Oxford Magazine, or Universal Museum (December 1768, facing page 229). None of these volumes contains a textual description of this image, which shows the funeral procession, the corpse carried on a litter, and various members of the procession playing musical instruments. All versions of this image ultimately derive from an engraving done by the Flemish brothers, Johan Theodore and Johan Israel De Bry, which was first published in the early 1600s (Orientalische Indien [Frankfort, 1603; German edition]; India Orientalis [Frankfort, 1604; Latin edition] vol. 6, plate 18). The De Brys had never visited Africa and constructed their illustrations of Africans from the late 16th century eye-witness accounts by the Dutchman Pieter de Marees of the Gold Coast, and by the Portuguese Duarte Lopez of the kingdom of Kongo. For an extended discussion of the De Brys' illustrations of Africa and their sources, see Ernst van den Boogaart, De Brys' Africa, in Susanna Burghartz, ed., Inszenierte Welten: Die west-und ostindischen reisen der verleger de Bry, 1590-1630 [Staging New Worlds: De Brys' Illustrated Travel Reports, 1590-1630] (Basel, 2004), pp. 95-149; for this image in particular, see pp. 136-137 in which the details, identified by letters of the alphabet shown on the engraving, are described.