From 1855-59, Paul B. Du Chaillu (Paul Belloni), a French-American explorer, led an expedition through Gabon, which was supported by the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Scienes. Du Chaillu's observations were published in Explorations & Adventures in Equatorial Africa (1861). This engraving is set in a village inhabited by the Fan peoples, who settled in the area around the Gabon River. It shows two Fan blacksmith working over a small fire. "As blacksmiths," Du Chaillu wrote, "they very far surpass all the tribes of this region who have not come in contact with whites. Their war-like habits have made iron a most necessary article to them; and though their tools are very simple, their patience is great, and, as the reader will perceive from the pictures of their arms, they produce some very neat workmanship." (p. 91) Describing the scene shown in the engraving, Du Chaillu continued, "The forge is set up anywhere where a fire can be built. They have invented a singular bellows, composed of two short, hollowed cylinders of wood, surmounted by skins accurately fitted on, and having an appropriate valve and a wooden handle. The bellows-man sits down, and moves these coverings up and down with great rapidity, and the air is led through small wooden pipes into an iron joint which emerges in the fire. The anvil is a solid piece of iron of the shape seen in the illustration. The sharp end is stuck into the ground, and the blacksmith sits alongside of his anvil and beats iron with a singular hammer, which is simply a piece of iron weighing three to six pounds, and in shape of a truncated cone. It has no handle, but is held by the smaller end, and, of course, the blows require much more strength." (p. 91-92), Illustration in Paul B. Du Chaillu's Explorations & adventures in equatorial Africa: With accounts of the manners and customs of the people, and the chace of the gorilla, crocodile, leopard, elephant, hippopotamus, and other animals (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1861), p. 91., Fels Afro-Americana Image Project, Africa: Images, Maps, and Geography.
Library Company of Philadelphia | Books & Other Texts | Rare U Afri Du Chail 15232.O p 91, https://digital.librarycompany.org/islandora/object/Islandora%3A2901