Felling a Tree, Cayenne (French Guiana), 1763

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Chevalier de Préfontaine, Maison rustique, a l'usage des habitans de la partie de la France équinoxiale, connue sous le nom de Cayenne (Paris, 1763), plate [planche] VI. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Shows two black men with axes felling a very large tree while standing on a scaffold or platform built around the tree trunk. The text notes (our translation): A raised scaffold [echaffaut/modern spelling, échasaud] or platform called "Boucan" in the country [i.e., Cayenne]. It is used to fell trees above a type of root called Arcabas that emerges out of the tree's trunk to heights of from 8 to 10 or even 12 feet above the ground. The roots surround the tree and function as buttresses [arcs-boutants]". Maroons in the forests of Suriname in the twentieth-century were felling trees in the same manner as shown here; see a photograph published in 1959 in Richard Price, Alabi's World (Johns Hopkins University Press,1990), p. 137.