Tortoise Hunting/Fishing, French West Indies, 17th cent.

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Image Reference

M. Chambon, Le commerce de l'Amerique par Marseille (Avignon, 1764), vol. 1, plate VI, facing p. 449. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Titled, "Pesche des Tortues". In a chapter devoted to the Tortoise, its distribution, trade, manner of eating, and recipes for its use, this accompanying engraving shows a group of blacks in a small boat hunting/fishing for tortoise. Various steps in the process are identified by number in the engraving. An accompanying explanation (vol. 1, p. 576) describes the steps. For example, no. 2, "Negre qui observe une tortue pour la varrer" (Negro observing a tortoise before harpooning it); 3. "varre ferré par le bout qui doit percer l'ecaille de la tortue; ayant une corde attaché a l'autre bout" ( harpoon iron-tipped at the end which should pierce the tortoise shell; having a rope/cord attached to the other end; 4. "tortue qui va etre varrée" (tortoise about to be harpooned). The bottom half of this engraving (not shown here) depicts a European turning over a tortoise on the beach in order to slaughter it. Both the top and bottom of this engraving were taken from a plate that was earlier published in Jean Baptiste DuTertre, Histoire Générale des Antilles (Paris, 1667), vol. 2, followng p. 246.