Burial and Mourners (Corisco Island-- Coastal Gabon-Equatorial Guinea), 1840s-1850s

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This record was last updated on 23 May 2017

Image Reference

Drawings of Western Africa (University of Virginia Library, Special Collections, MSS 14357, no. 13).

Ink, watercolor and crayon. Captioned "Burial" by the artist, the scene shows five men with cutlasses running into the forest, perhaps at what was considered the edge of the village, to a burial ground. The row of rectangular houses is typical of village layouts in Corisco and neighboring coastal areas of the mainland. Two men are carrying the corpse, which appears to be wrapped or rolled in a fiber mat affixed to a pole which rests on their shoulders. One of the men (on the left) appears to be digging a grave with his cutlass; another (right) is carrying an earthenware jug, perhaps to be interred with the corpse or containing a libation to be poured on the grave. On the right, a group of mourners expressing their grief. An unidentifiable banner or flag, perhaps signifying a missionary station, which also appears in other images (UVA10, 25) flies from a pole. Some of the elements in this scene resemble practices reported for peoples of Corisco Island and neighboring mainland areas by a late nineteenth-century American Presbyterian missionary (Robert H. Nassau, Fetichism in West Africa [London, 1904], pp. 217-224, 234). See other image references “UVA” on this site.