Male Clothing, 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. 71. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Caption, "Pangou, courtier de Loangue." The author notes that the "Black Congolese walk about almost nude, but the parts of their bodies that are covered are dressed with grace. The engraving gives an exact description of their clothing . . . their loincloth is made from 'macout' a local term meaning fabric made from straw. With the advent of trade with Europeans, the loincloth came to be made of various fabrics, including linen, cotton, silk, or even velvet. They are excessively decorated with red coral, the ultimate luxury . . . Rich people wear a long silver chain that fits low around their waist. But out of their apparel, the most important is a fur pelt with groups of small bells that they wear near their 'natural parts'; it is what they call their 'canda'. This means skin. This part of their clothing is their seal of honor" (pp. 70-72; 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.