Painting Guide for Portuguese Medieval Africa

Some notes about costumes in Portuguese Medieval Africa.

1789 Benin

Equiano (1789) described the costumes of his native Benin “The dress of both sexes is nearly the same. It generally consists of a long piece of callico, or muslin, wrapped loosely round the body, somewhat in the form of a highland plaid. This is usually dyed blue, which is our favourite colour. It is extracted from a berry, and is brighter and richer than any I have seen in Europe. Besides this, our women of distinction wear golden ornaments; which they dispose with some profusion on their arms and legs”.

Portuguese Flags 1500-1640

Nuno Pereira on the Practical Soldier discussion forum says “From what I’ve found most flags were either white with a red Cross of Christ (like in Portuguese sails) or a red St. Andrew’s cross on a dark-blue field. Commanding officers also used their heraldic flags and there was always some sort of religious flag with the image of the Holy Virgin or St Catherine’s Wheel.”


Equiano, O. (1789). Extract from Chapter 1 (4-38). The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African [vol 1]. London: Printed for and sold by the author.

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