Courts and Administration of Justice, Gold Coast, late 16th cent.

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Image Reference

Theodore and Johan Israel De Bry, Indiae Orientalis pars VI [India Orientalis. pt. 6], (Frankfort, 1604), plate 7 (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

A depiction of the court and administration of justice. Seven features are indentified, labelled from A to G; for example, (A) the king or chief listening to a case presented to him, (B) the beheading of a man who killed a Dutchman, (D) a woman drinking from a jug and swearing an oath to her husband that she had nothing to do with other men, (F) persons dissatisfied with the chief's verdict fight it out among themselves, (G) women mourning those who are condemned. The De Brys had never visited Africa and constructed their illustrations of Africans from the late 16th century eye-witness accounts by the Dutchman Pieter de Marees of the Gold Coast, and by the Portuguese Duarte Lopez of the kingdom of Kongo. For an extended discussion of the De Brys' illustrations of Africa and their sources, see Ernst van den Boogaart, De Brys' Africa, in Susanna Burghartz, ed., Inszenierte Welten: Die west-und ostindischen reisen der verleger de Bry, 1590-1630 [Staging New Worlds: De Brys' Illustrated Travel Reports, 1590-1630] (Basel, 2004), pp. 95-149; for this image in particular, see pp. 130, 131, 134. (Problems in scanning this volume have resulted in distortions in the left-hand side of the image.)