Funeral Ceremony, 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 18 (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Depicts (A) the open grave with grave goods next to it, (B) corpse being carried to the grave with female mourners behind crying and wailing and other women in front playing various musical instruments and dancing, (C) after the grave has been filled in, women crawl about it wailing, and (D) washing in the sea after the funeral. 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. 136-37. This illustration was used and modfied in later publications; see, for example, image reference JCB_34352-10. (Problems in scanning this volume have resulted in distortions in the left-hand side of the image.)