Muslims at Prayer, Senegal, 1780s

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This record was last updated on 26 Aug 2010

Image Reference

René Claude Geoffroy de Villeneuve, L'Afrique, ou histoire, moeurs, usages et coutumes des africains: le Sénégal (Paris, 1814), vol. 4, facing p. 102. (Copy in Special Collections, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, "Temple des Talbes ou Marabouts". The Talbes, according to Villeneuve, were Moorish clerics (pretres maures) while the Marabouts (in the Wolof language called Serime) were Black Muslim clerics; the latter were disciples of the former and there was a great deal of contact between the two. Their mosques are an uncovered straw enclosure forming a long square at the end of which is found another square for those at prayer (pp. 99, 101-102). Villeneuve lived in the Senegal region for about two years in the mid-to-late 1780s. The engravings in his book, he writes, were made from drawings that were mostly done on the spot during his African residence (vol. 1, pp. v-vi). The same illustration appears in color in the English translation of Villeneuve; see Frederic Shoberl (ed.), Africa; containing a description of the manners and customs, with some historical particulars of the Moors of the Zahara . . . (London, 1821), vol. 3, facing p. 63.