A Young Negress, Studying the Game of Ouri
Oware is an abstract strategy "pit and pebble" board game played worldwide. There are slight variations to the game, i.e. number of players, layout and strategies. Its origin is debatable, but it is widely believed to be of Asante origin. It is called different names in different cultures, but it is popular throughout West Africa and the Caribbean. Sylvain Meinrad Xavier de Golbèry (1742-1822) was a captain in the French military who explored the Senegambia region to provide economic, social, and political information for the French government. In describing this engraving, Golbèry wrote, "the young Foulha [Fula], Manding [Madingo], and Jolof Negresses are passionately fond of a game, which they call ouri; it is a complex game, which they study attentively, and pride themselves on playing with propriety. . . and yet it is only played by women" (p. 422-424). Another translation of this work (London, 1803), by William Mudford, with some variations in wording, contains the same image, but reversed.
Sylvain Meinrad Xavier de Golbèry, Travels in Africa, performed during the years 1785, 1786, and 1787, in the western countries of that continent . . . translated from the French, without abridgement, by Francis Blagdon (London, 1802 [first published, Paris, 1802]), vol. 2, facing p. 423.
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"A Young Negress, Studying the Game of Ouri", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed September 18, 2020, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2652