Emerald Mining, Colombia, 1560s-1570s

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Image Reference

Histoire naturelle des Indes: the Drake manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library [a full color facsimile edition with English translations]; preface by Charles E. Pierce; forward by Patrick O'Brian; introduction by Verlyn Klinkenborg; translations by Ruth S. Kraemer (New York, 1996), folio 98, translation p. 266. (Image shown here courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. MA3900; copyright held by the Morgan Library.)

Titled, "How Emeralds Grow and are Mined in the Mountains," this rather crude drawing shows a pair of Black men mining emeralds. The emerald, notes the accompanying description, "grows on the very high mountains and the Negro slaves have great trouble and difficulty obtaining it by reason of the height of the mountains. They usually end their days there because while digging in the rocks masses of stone fall on them which pin them underneath and they die miserably." The mountains are in a "province called Lerayne [Colombia] close to a city called Santa Fe, the capital of the province" (Kraemer translation, p. 266). For details on this work, otherwise known as the Drake Manuscript, see image reference MA3900f102; see also images MA3900f57, MA3900f100.