John Canoe (Jonkonnu, JonKanoo) Costume, 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).

Captioned, Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy, John Canoe characters who, Belisario writes, were literate street performers who recited passages from, for example, Shakespeare plays and engaged in pantomime. "They content themselves annually with the public exhibition of their finery,and station themselves in a busy area of Kingston where gentlemen who may be passing are requested to decide which is the smartest dressed, presumably by tipping them" (see also Belisario05). For background on the artist, see Belisario01.