Pottery Sellers, Kingston, Jamaica, 1838

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This record was last updated on 13 May 2016

Image Reference

Isaac Mendes Belisario, Sketches of character, in illustration of the habits, occupation, and costume of the Negro population, in the island of Jamaica: drawn after nature, and in lithography (Kingston, Jamaica: published by the artist, at his residence, 1837-1838; reprinted Hawaii: Kauai Fine Arts, 1998).

Caption, "Water-Jar Sellers," shows two men carrying pottery on their heads. The pottery in tray on the left includes (on the very top) the globular tea-pot shaped ceramic ware known in the Anglophone Caribbean as a "monkey" or "monkey jar," used to hold water and keep it cool. This might be the earliest known illustration of the "monkey" in the Caribbean. The large pot being carried on the right appears to be a Jamaican version of the "Spanish [olive] jar." Belisario provides a detailed description of water supplies in Jamaica, particularly Kingston, and notes that the porous water jars in "ordinary use are manufactured at potteries near the city"; the two men shown here "are apprentices who sally forth daily." The blue bag hanging from the neck of the taller man is a purse, "every female Negro also carries a similar appendage at her waist." For background on the artist, see Belisario01.