Diamond Washing, Brazil, 1817-1820

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Image Reference

Johann Baptist von Spix and C. F. Phil. von Martius,Travels in Brazil, in the years 1817-1820 (London, 1824), vol. 2, facing title page. (Copy in Library Company of Philadelphia)

Caption, "Diamond washing at Curralinho." This plate is described on p. ix: "The negroes looking for diamonds, sit in a row on a bench in a shallow pond. Some are busy washing, in wooden bowls . . . the gravel taken from the bed of the river; others hold up their arms, with their fingers spread, to show that they have found nothing in the bowls, which are swimming empty in the water, or they are fetching fresh gravel from the heap near them. Before the pond is a bowl with clean water, in which a negro is going to put the diamond he has just found, after holding it up between his fingers to show it. To the right and left, on a seat a little raised, and under a kind of parasol, is an overseer to watch the negroes at their work. The director, who is just arrived, puts the diamonds that have been found into a bag." The same image appears in the Atlas of the original German edition: Johann Baptist von Spix, Reise in Brasilien (Munchen, 1831), plate 9.