Large Canoe and Village Scene, Gabon estuary/Corisco Island, ca. 1840s-1850s

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This record was last updated on 27 Jun 2017

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 11).

Ink, watercolor and crayon. The foreground shows a large canoe paddled by five kneeling men, labeled “kroomen” (i.e., Kru, Krumen) and what appears to be a Euro-American sailing vessel labeled “slaver cutter.” (although it might be a large dugout indigenous African canoe). Since acquiring a full shipload of captive Africans could take a long time, slaving vessels (i.e., slavers ) sometimes used smaller vessels such as cutters, which were dispatched from the main ship; captives were then brought back to the slaver in these smaller vessels. The men seated in the canoe are paddling in a characteristically Kru style, and the paddles are similar to those of Liberian Kru/Krumen in the 19th century. The village in the background shows the bamboo rectangular houses and their arrangement in a typical Mpongwe settlement in the coastal Gabon-Corisco Island area. Sources: Erskine Clarke, By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth Century Atlantic Odyssey (Basic Books, New York, 2013); Harry Johnston, Liberia (Dodd, Mead, 1906), pp. 496, 940; George Brooks, The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century (Newark, Delaware, 1972); Paul DuChaillu, Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa (New York, 1862), p. 39; John L. Wilson, Western Africa (New York, 1865), pp. 257-58; F. Bacon, Cape Palmas, and the Mena, or Kroomen, Jl. of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol. 12 [1842], pp. 196-206. See other image references “UVA” on this site. For background to this and other UVA images, see image reference UVA01.