King Greets European Visitors, Cape Lopez (Gabon), 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 19 (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Depicts the king sitting on a chair/throne on a raised platform of two or three steps; he is surrounded by his nobles. Those who want to speak to him must sit on a mat on the ground. In the background is a large canoe which holds 60 people, and the foreground shows women weaving mats or cooking bananas over a fire. 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. 142-43.(Problems in scanning this volume have resulted in distortions in the left-hand side of the image.)