Physical Punishment, Rebellion, Running Away

  • Whipping of a Fugitive Slave, French West Indies, 1840s

    Lying on his stomach, the victim's hands and legs are tied to stakes while he is being whipped by the black overseer; next to one of his legs is the iron spiked collar, with attached chain, which was often attached to the neck of captured fugitive slaves. Other slaves and the planter and his family witness the scene. Marcel Verdier (1817-1856) gave an 1849 date to his work (see lower right hand corner), but it may have been done in 1843 for an exhibition at the Paris Salon. Originally advertised by the title Le Supplice de Fouet, it was listed in a catalog for the exhibition as Chatiment des Quatres Piquets dans les Colonies (Punishment of the Four Stakes/Pegs in the Colonies), the name by which it is commonly known. The exhibition jury rejected the painting because its harsh theme would have offended the colonial ambassadors in Paris (William Hauptman, Juries, Protests, and Counter-Exhibitions before 1850. The Art Bulletin 67 [1985], pp. 105- 106; see also Hugh Honour, pp.153-154, 156). Although this painting has often been reproduced in books dealing with New World slavery, it is not based on the artist's own observations. (Thanks to Claude Picard for his help.)
  • Metal Face Mask, Brazil, 1820s

    Shows a slave wearing a tin mask over his face; he is heading a large ceramic jar. Brazilian slavemasters compelled slaves who were prone to eat earth or dirt to wear such masks. This illustration does not appear to have been published in Debret's, Voyage Pittoresque et Historique au Bresil (Paris,1834-39), although another slave, wearing such a mask, is illustrated in vol. 2, plate 10, captioned une visite a la campagne (the image is not shown on this website). For a description of this mask in Brazil, see image reference ewbank3. The engravings in this book were taken from drawings made by Debret during his residence in Brazil from 1816 to 1831. For watercolors by Debret of scenes in Brazil, some of which were incorporated into his Voyage Pittoresque, see Jean Baptiste Debret, Viagem Pitoresca e Historica ao Brasil (Editora Itatiaia Limitada, Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1989; a reprint of the 1954 Paris edition, edited by R. De Castro Maya).
  • Executed Slaves, Demerara (British Guiana), 1823

    Depicts the punishment of slaves convicted of participating in the major 1823 revolt. The caption reads: Five of the culprits in chains, as they appeared on the 20th of September 1823: 1), upper right, Quamina, on plantation Success; 2), upper right, Lindor, on La Bonne Intention; 3), lower left, Paul, on the Friendship, and two heads at the middle-walk of Plantation New Orange Nassau; 4), lower right, Telemachus and Jemmy, on Bachelor's Adventure. The decapitation of slaves convicted of major crimes was not unusual in the British West Indies. The thirteen engravings in this book (a list with their descriptions is on pp. 115-120) and the drawings on which they are based, were made by the author; he had been living in Demerara for 15 years at the time of publication. Copies of this work in the John Carter Brown Library and the British Library contain these illustrations (but with different paginations), but the illustrations are lacking in the Boston Athaneum and Library of Congress copies.
  • Metal Face Mask and Collar Punishments, Trinidad, 1836

    Caption, Negro Heads, with punishments for Intoxication and dirt-eating. Bridgens writes, The tin collar is a punishment for drunkenness in females, while the mask is a punishment and preventative of . . . dirt eating. Dirt eating, or geophagy was widespread among West Indian slaves, but its etiology was commonly misunderstood by West Indian planters. The illustration also shows facial and body scarification, or so-called country marks, indicative of African origin; the man in the center right also displays filed or modified teeth, another indicator of African birth among enslaved West Indians (see Jerome Handler, Determining African Birth from Skeletal Remains: A Note on Tooth Mutilation, Historical Archaeology [1994], vol. 28, pp. 113-119; also, for geophagy, Handler, Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians, From the Seventeenth Century to around 1838, Part II. Journal of Caribbean History [2006], vol. 40, pp. 185-187). A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Punishments for Runaways, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1850s

    Ilustration shows three slaves, one wearing a log and chain around his neck, another an iron collar; the third wears a tin mask. The first two items denote runaways, but the mask is placed on city slaves to prevent them from drinking strong liquor and on the country-slave to prevent eating clay, to which many of the field-negroes are addicted (p. 132). The same illustration appears in later editions of Kidder's work, e.g., 1866 (6th ed.), 1879 (9th ed.). For other illustrations of the tin-mask in Brazil, see images ewbank3, debret-2, magasin1 on this website.
  • Spaniards Beating African Slaves, Peru, 1600-1615

    Title of drawing, translated: How the Spaniards abuse their African slaves; a Spanish woman (center) beats an African female (left) with a tree branch or cudgel, while the foot of a Spanish male (right) forces down the head of an African on the ground in front of him. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was a native Andean from southern Peru who addressed his lengthy critique of Spanish colonial rule to King Philip III of Spain. It was written between 1600 and 1615, and is composed of 1,200 pages, including 398 full-page drawings seven of which show blacks or Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library (Copenhagen); a complete and searchable digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available on the Internet as The Guaman Poma Website. The title translations we use are taken from the website. The drawing is in Chapter 31, image 337, of the original manuscript. (See Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 [Stanford University Press, 1974], passim, for the historical context of this drawing.)
  • An African Slave Flogs a Peruvian Indian, Peru, 1600-1615

    Title of drawing, translated: The royal administrator orders an African slave to flog an Indian magistrate for collecting a tribute that falls two eggs short; shows African slave in center wielding a whip in one hand and in the other holding onto the hair of the Indian who is tied to a (stone?) column (see also image Guaman99). Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was a native Andean from southern Peru who addressed his lengthy critique of Spanish colonial rule to King Philip III of Spain. It was written between 1600 and 1615, and is composed of 1,200 pages, including 398 full-page drawings seven of which show blacks or Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library (Copenhagen); a complete and searchable digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available on the Internet as The Guaman Poma Website. The title translations we use are taken from the website. The drawing is in Chapter 29, image 300, of the original manuscript. (See Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 [Stanford University Press, 1974], passim, for the historical context of this drawing.)
  • Blacks Being Beaten by a Spaniard, Peru, 1600-1615

    Title of drawing, translated: Good blacks endure the abuses of their master with patience and the love of Christ; a man and woman, both kneeling, being beaten with a cudgel (?) by a Spaniard. Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala was a native Andean from southern Peru who addressed his lengthy critique of Spanish colonial rule to King Philip III of Spain. It was written between 1600 and 1615, and is composed of 1,200 pages, including 398 full-page drawings seven of which show blacks or Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library (Copenhagen); a complete and searchable digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available on the Internet as The Guaman Poma Website. The title translations we use are taken from the website. The drawing is in Chapter 25, image 276, of the original manuscript. (See Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 [Stanford University Press, 1974], passim, for the historical context of this drawing.)
  • Metal Face Mask, Brazil, 1846

    Shows a woman wearing a mask talking to a man who is wearing a leg chain and metal collar. It is said slaves in masks are not so often encountered in the streets as formerly . . . . I met but three or four, and in each case the sufferer was a female. The mask is the reputed ordinary punishment and preventative of drunkenness . . . . the mask is to hinder him or her from conveying the liquor to the mouth. . . . Except a projecting piece for the nose, the metal is simply bent cylinder-wise. Minute holes are punched to admit air to the nostrils, and similar ones in front of the eyes. A jointed strap (of metal) on each side goes round below the ears (sometimes two), and meets one that passes over the crown of the head. . . Most of the collars were of five-eighths inch round iron, some with one prong, others with two . . . (Ewbank, p. 437). The author spent about seven months in Brazil in 1846. The image is shown on the Mary Evans Picture Gallery (London) website, but the location and date are erroneously given as British Guiana, 1886.
  • Collar and Chain to Prevent Escape, Brazil, 1846

    While waiting for [an acquaintance] . . . a dozen at least of butcher's slaves went past in the course of an hour with crushing loads of fresh-killed beef. . . . One poor fellow had a collar, and a chain extending from it to an ankle . . . . Other slaves went by, awfully crippled in their feet and legs; among them two women, lame with elephantiasis . . . .The right leg of one was really almost as large as her waist (Ewbank, p. 277). The author spent about seven months in Brazil in 1846.
  • Punishment of Slaves, Madagascar, 1850s

    Caption:,modes of punishing slaves. In one of their houses . . . a number of female slaves were at work. Some of them were carrying baskets of cotton or other articles from one room to another . . . I saw one young girl who had a couple of boards fixed on her shoulders, each of them rather more than two feet long, and ten inches or a foot wide, fastened together by pieces of wood nailed on the under side. A piece had been cut out of each board in the middle, so that, when fixed together they fitted close to her neck, and the poor girl, while wearing this instrument of punishment and disgrace, was working with the rest. On another occasion I saw a boy, apparently about fifteen years of age, with a rough, heavy iron collar on his naked neck. It seemed to be formed by a square bar of iron, about three-quarters of an inch thick, being bent around his neck, and the two ends then joined together. yet he was . . . employed in carrying fire-wood to the beach for shipping (Ellis, 1888, p.145).
  • Revolt Aboard Amistad, 1839

    Shows fighting on top deck of slave ship; lengthy commentary underneath gives details on Amistad revolt. Under the caption, Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad, July, 1839.
  • Joseph Cinque (Cinquez) on Board the Amistad, 1839

    A lithograph published as a broadside; caption, Joseph Cinquez addressing his compatriots on board the Spanish schooner, Amistad, 26 Aug 1839. The lithograph is on display in the Chicago Historial Society museum exhibit A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln.
  • Metal Face Mask and Collar Punishments, Trinidad, 1836

    Caption, Negro Heads, with punishments for Intoxication and dirt-eating. Bridgens writes, The tin collar is a punishment for drunkenness in females, while the mask is a punishment and preventative of . . . dirt eating. Dirt eating, or geophagy was widespread among West Indian slaves, but its etiology was commonly misunderstood by West Indian planters. The illustration also shows facial and body scarification, or so-called country marks, indicative of African origin; the man in the center right also displays filed or modified teeth, another indicator of African birth among enslaved West Indians (see Jerome Handler, Determining African Birth from Skeletal Remains: A Note on Tooth Mutilation, Historical Archaeology [1994], vol. 28, pp. 113-119; also, for geophagy, Handler, Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians, From the Seventeenth Century to around 1838, Part II. Journal of Caribbean History [2006], vol. 40, pp. 185-187). A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Punishment in Stocks, Trinidad, 1836

    Bed-stocks for intoxication, etc. The bed stock is generally placed in some of the out-houses belonging to the estate, where the offender may be denied the society and encouragement of his friends or accomplices . . . . A tin mask, such as is put on the heads of Negroes addicted to . . . dirt-eating, is seen hanging against the wall (Bridgens). A sculptor, furniture designer and architect, Richard Bridgens was born in England in 1785, but in 1826 he moved to Trinidad where his wife had inherited a sugar plantation, St. Clair. Although he occasionally returned to England, he ultimately lived in Trinidad for seven years and died in Port of Spain in 1846. Bridgens' book contains 27 plates, thirteen of which are shown on this website. The plates were based on drawings made from life and were done between 1825, when Bridgens arrived in Trinidad, and 1836, when his book was published. Although his work is undated, the title page of a copy held by the Beinecke Rare Book Room at Yale University has a front cover with a publication date of 1836, the date usually assigned to this work by major libraries whose copies lack a title page. Bridgens' racist perspectives on enslaved Africans and his defense of slavery are discussed in T. Barringer, G. Forrester, and B. Martinez-Ruiz, Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and his Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 460-461. Bridgensí life is discussed extensively along with discussion of his drawings and presentation of many details on slave life in Trinidad in Judy Raymond, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery (Coconut Beach, Florida: Caribbean Studies Press, 2016). Raymondís book, which is an essential source for any study of Bridgens, also includes a number of unpublished sketches of Trinidadian slave life. See also Brian Austen, Richard Hicks Bridgens (Oxford Art Online/Grove Art Online).
  • Black Caribs, St. Vincent, 1773

    Title, Chatoyer, the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St. Vincent with his Wives. The so-called Black Caribs were descendants of the indigenous Caribs and fugitive black slaves from St. Vincent and neighoring islands. In the late 17th century and the early 18th, many of these slaves came from Barbados, 100 miles to the east. The print shown here is from an oil painting located in the National Library of Jamaica (slide of print, courtesy of Kenneth Bilby); a print is also owned by the Barbados Museum, with its caption noting drawn from the life by Agostino Brunyas, 1773. Agostino Brunias (sometimes incorrectly spelled Brunyas, Brunais), a painter born in Italy in 1730, came to England in 1758 where he became acquainted with William Young. Young had been appointed to a high governmental post in West Indian territories acquired by Britain from France, and in late 1764 Brunias accompanied Young to the Caribbean as his personal artist. Arriving in early 1765, Brunias stayed in the islands until around 1775, when he returned to England (exhibiting some of his paintings in the late 1770s) and visited the continent. He returned to the West Indies in 1784 and remained there until his death on the island of Dominica in 1796. Although Brunias primarily resided in Dominica he also spent time in St. Vincent, and visited other islands, including Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts, and Tobago. It was during the three years, 1765-1768, that Brunias had his greatest access to the Black Caribs and he did several paintings of Chatoyer during this period. See Lennox Honychurch, Chatoyer's Artist: Agostino Brunias and the Depiction of St Vincent, for what is presently the most informative and balanced discussion of Brunias and his romanticized and idyllic paintings of West Indian scenes and slave life (Jl of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, vol. 50 [2004], pp.104-128); see also Hans Huth, Agostino Brunias, Romano (The Connoisseur, vol. 51 [Dec. 1962], pp. 265-269).
  • A Bush Negro (Maroon) Chief, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Caption, Un chef en voyage (A Chief on a Trip). When a chief travels in the interior, Benoit writes, he is followed by one or two young blacks, and in his hand he carries the symbol of his office, a long bamboo staff interwoven with large leaves and topped with a pommel or really a sphere/globe, which is somewhat like the staffs carried by our drum majors (p. 62). 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.
  • A Bush Negro (Maroon) Elder, Suriname, ca. 1831

    Caption, Un Vieillard et son esclave (An Elder and His Slave). After remarking on a foreigner's difficulty in ascertaining status and rank differences among the Bush Negroes, since they are not differentiated by their clothing, Benoit describes a scene in which one of these people arrived at Paramaribo by canoe with two other villagers. All wore only loincloths, and none was distinguished from the other by clothing, except the eldest wore iron and coral arm and leg ornaments and an unsheathed cutlass around his waist. After disembarking, however, the elder proceeded to don a robe and carry an elaborate staff; his own slave put on a top hat and followed the elder into town (p. 62). 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.
  • Bush Negroes (Maroons), Suriname, ca. 1831

    Benoit gives a lengthy discussion of the Bush Negroes or Maroons. This illustration shows a delegation, led by the granman. To his left is the major fiscal and to his right, the under captain granman; following the three leaders are the captains of all the villages (p. 59). 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.
  • Bush Negroes (Maroons), Suriname, ca. 1831

    Caption, A woman wearing bells (left); a Spy with the instrument he uses to convey news (center); and a man holding a canoe paddle (right). As background to this illustration, Benoit writes that from time to time the Bush Negroes (Bosch-Negres) raid plantations and kidnap enslaved women. It is very difficult for planters to recapture these kidnapped women because the Bush Negroes hide them in the deepest forest areas. However, he continues, a number of these women have family or other emotional attachments on the plantations from which they were taken, and sometimes escape and return to their plantations. And to make escape more difficult, the maroons attach to the necks of these women different types of bells (les grelots et la sonnette) so that they can be aware of any movement made by the women. In this illustration, the author depicts a woman who he saw with bells around her neck and her body which the maroons hoped would discourage her from trying to escape again(p. 61). In referring to the Spy (espion), he writes that the Bush Negroes are very distrustful and suspicious of Europeans, and to know what is going on throughout the colony, they have established a manner of communication no less prompt/quick than the telegraph. When an event takes place in the city that is of interest to them, whether it be preparation for war, the death of an important personnage or the arrival of a vessel, one of these Bush Negroes whose job is that of a spy and who maintains contact with Negroes in the city who let him know what is going on and as soon as he hears the news he goes into the country and using a small lead instrument, resembling a flute but only having one hole in the middle, he blows into it with force. The sound which is spread more than a league in distance is repeated by other Bush Negroes and at the end of a few minutes the Bush Negro villages learn that something new has happened (p. 62). 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.
  • A Fugitive Slave, Suriname, ca. 1831

    A forest scene by a riverside. An escaped slave is sitting in his shelter, with various utensils and goods, including rifle and canoe. Benoit writes: it is not rare to find, in the most remote places, a black man who spends entire years secluded and isolated from communication with other men. The author once encountered one of these fugitives in an almost impenetrable forest where he had lived for three years. He had no family or companionship and lived off of crabs, monkeys, snakes, bananas, everything that nature offered. He had only ventured twice to Paramaribo, to trade various forest products for lead shot, powder, and gin (p. 59). 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.
  • Execution of Participants in Slave Insurrection, Demerara (British Guiana), 1823

    This plate, according to Bryant who made the drawing on which it is based,
  • Retreat of British Military during Slave Insurrection, Demerara (British Guiana), 1823

    Bryant titles this engraving,
  • Capture of a Runaway Slave, Brasil, 1826

    Caption,
  • Whip Used on Slaves, Barbados

    The whip shown in this photograph is a modern replica of an object that historical evidence indicates was used to discipline enslaved laborers in the eighteenth century. The whip was acquired by Handler in Chalky Mount, a village in Barbados, during 1961-62 while he was doing anthropological fieldwork. The villagers called this plaited leather whip a hunter and used it while herding cows or small livestock. The villagers were unaware of the history of this object. The following 18th century description perfectly fits the hunter shown here. William Dickson, who had lived in Barbados during the 1770s and 1780s as secretary to the colonial governor, wrote in his well-known work on British West Indian slavery: The instrument of correction commonly used in Barbadoes, is called a cow-skin, without which a negro driver would [not] . . . . think of going into the field . . . . It is composed of leathern thongs, platted in the common way, and tapers from the end of the handle (within which is a short bit of wood) to the point, which is furnished with a lash of silk-grass, hard platted and knotted, like that of a horse-whip but thicker. Its form gives it some degree of elasticity towards the handle; and when used with severity . . .it tears the flesh, and brings blood at every stroke (Letters on Slavery [London, 1789], pp. 14-15).
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