Punishment of Slaves, Madagascar, 1850s


William Ellis, Three visits to Madagascar during the years 1853-1854-1856 (New York, 1859; reprinted, Philadelphia, 1888), p. 175; also published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1858-59), vol. 18, p. 601. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)


Caption:,modes of punishing slaves. In one of their houses . . . a number of female slaves were at work. Some of them were carrying baskets of cotton or other articles from one room to another . . . I saw one young girl who had a couple of boards fixed on her shoulders, each of them rather more than two feet long, and ten inches or a foot wide, fastened together by pieces of wood nailed on the under side. A piece had been cut out of each board in the middle, so that, when fixed together they fitted close to her neck, and the poor girl, while wearing this instrument of punishment and disgrace, was working with the rest. On another occasion I saw a boy, apparently about fifteen years of age, with a rough, heavy iron collar on his naked neck. It seemed to be formed by a square bar of iron, about three-quarters of an inch thick, being bent around his neck, and the two ends then joined together. yet he was . . . employed in carrying fire-wood to the beach for shipping (Ellis, 1888, p.145).

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