River Transport, Magdalena River, Colombia, 1826

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Image Reference

Alcide Dessalines d'Orbigny, Voyage pittoresque dans les deux Amériques...(Paris, 1836), facing p. 62, fig. 3. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Captioned, “Champan sur la Magdalena,” this engraving shows several types of river transportation on the Magdalena river, particularly the “champan” [i.e., champana or sampan], the large flat boats which were the major means of carrying goods in the interior; in the foreground, a raft made of balsa logs lashed with vines (both vessels described on p. 81). The boatmen in the large straw hats are “bogas,” free men of color, who played prominent roles in transport on Colombia’s main rivers (for details, see Aline Helg, Liberty & Equality in Caribbean Colombia, 1770-1835 [Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2004], pp. 67-70).