Wooden Yokes Used in Coffles, Senegal, ca. 1789

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Image Reference

Thomas Clarkson, Letters on the slave-trade, and the state of the natives in those parts of Africa, . . . contiguous to Fort St. Louis and Goree (London, 1791), plate 2, facing p. 36, figs. 1-5. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Clarkson writes: "In the plate . . . Fig 1, AA represents two separate pieces of wood, which in the Fig. 2, 3 are made fast to the necks of two Negroes by means of cords, which are composed of the roots of trees, and are in use in those countries. Many of the Negroes were accustomed to be driven before the Mundingoes, one by one, each with this instrument on his neck. It was found convenient for two reasons: First, because of the roads, which lay through the woods in these parts, were often so narrow, as not to admit three or four persons to walk abreast; Secondly, Because it was an insuperable obstacle to an escape, for the trees were so close to each other in the forests, as not to suffer any person to go between them, who had such an incumbrance on his neck. The second manner of conducting them is described in the same plate. Fig. 4 represents an instrument, which is of wood. Within the crutches of this instrument, which are at each end of it, are placed the necks of two Negroes in Fig. 5, which are confined in its extremities XX by means of certain cords, which are in use in that part of the world. Thus confined, two at a time, others of the Negroes, who were annually brought from Bambara to Galam are said to have travelled" (p. 36). This description is based on Clarkson's communications with De Villeneuve, a Frenchman who visited the Senegal area in the mid-to-late 1780s; see image VILE-43; see also image LCP-17.