Court of King of Sestro, 1681

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This record was last updated on 15 Feb 2016

Image Reference

John Barbot, A Description of the coasts of North and South-Guinea . . . Now first printed from his original manuscript, In Awnsham and John Churchill (compilers), Collection of Voyages (London, 1732), vol. 5, plate G, p. 130.

Barbot, the "Agent-General of the Royal Company of Africa" provides a detailed account of his visit to the king. He and his party were received "in a pretty large half-round building, cover'd somewhat loftily, in form of a sugar-loaf . . . being in the nature of a common hall to receive strangers, and deliberate on the affairs of the country . . . . I found the king . . . an elderly man, with silver hair, sitting on his heels on a fine mat .. . clad in a white cotton . . . frock . . . . holding a very long pipe to his mouth, the bowl end resting on the floor . . .. and attended by twenty or twenty-two of his counselors, sitting in a semicircle on the right and left of him on fine mats. Before the king stood two large pots of palm-wine, two empty calabashes or half-gourds near it, and a round wooden stool, about a foot high. When I was come within his reach, he held out his hand, and made me a sign to sit on the stool just facing him; and to my attendants, to sit down on the mats that lay by . . . " (pp. 128-129). Barbot is shown facing the king (C "myself). The original drawing is the 1688 manuscript, located in the National Archives, London (formerly Public Record Office). (Robin Law, pers. comm.). See also P.E.H. Hair, Adam Jones, and Robin Law, eds., Barbot on Guinea: The Writings of Jean Barbot on West Africa 1678-1712 (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1992), vol. 1, p. cxiii for details.