House of Enslaved Plantation Laborers, Suriname, ca. 1831

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This record was last updated on 07 May 2016

Image Reference

Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l'auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), fig. 50. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Benoit describes this image: "Each slave has a small house, of 9 to 10 feet high and 10 to 12 feet in diameter, with a door and a small window. Furnishings consist of one or two beds, raised about a half a foot from the ground. The house is made of bamboos on which there is a matting without a cross bar. Slaves usually cover themselves with a wool blanket, and since they are very sensitive to the nighttime dampness they make a fire in the middle of their hut which is tightly closed" (p. 53). Benoit (1782-1854), a Belgian artist, visited Suriname around 1831 and apparently stayed for several months. The 100 lithographs in his book (hand colored in the John Carter Brown copy), accompanied by textual descriptions of varying detail, are derived from drawings he made during his visit, which included time in Paramaribo, the capital, as well as trips into the interior visiting Maroons and Amerindians. Forty of his lithographs, with our translations from the French text, are shown on this website.