Slaves in Madagascar subjected to physical punishment: (left) a boy wearing a heavy iron collar is carrying a heavy piece of wood; (right) a woman with her head in a cangue is carrying a basket. Wood engraving after W. Ellis, 1858.
- Ellis, William, 1794-1872
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"From the little which I saw of the domestic slaves in Madagascar, I should think their condition vastly superior to that of the severe labour and suffering which characterised the slavery of our West Indian colonies, yet I occasionally saw some of the inevitable consequences of the system that were perhaps more revolting in their moral degradation than in the physical suffering inflicted. In one of the houses which I entered one day, a number of female slaves were at work. Some of them were carrying baskets of cotton or other articles from one room to another, and, as they passed along, 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 round his neck, and the two ends then joined together. Yet he was working with a number of other boys and men employed in carrying fire-wood to the beach for the shipping."--Ellis, op. cit. pp. 147-148
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