Muster of Plantation Slaves, Brazil, 1867


Harper's Weekly (Jan. 30, 1869), p.77.


Caption, Fortnightly Slave Muster, Brazil. Shows large group of slaves gathered in compound of Casa Grande plantation (Morro Velho, in the valley of Rio de San Francisco); plantation house in background. This illustration was first published in Richard F. Burton, Explorations in the Highlands of Brazil (London, 1869, vol. 1, facing title page; titled The Fortnightly Slave Muster at the Casa Grande, Morro Velho). Burton describes this scene in great detail; an excerpt follows: A peculiar sight . . . is the Revista or muster of the blacks, which takes place every second Sunday. . . . about 1100 out of 1452 attended in the 'Compound' . . . . Both sexes were bare-footed--everywhere in the Brazil a token of slavery. The women . . . were ranged in columns of six companies. They were dressed in the 'Sabbath' uniform, white cotton petticoats, with narrow red band round the lower third; cotton shawls striped blue and white, and a bright kerchief, generally scarlet, bound round the wool . . . . Ranged behind the women, the men are clothed in white shirts, loose blue woolen pants, red caps . . . and cotton trousers . . . . Children of an age to attend the Revista are clad in the same decent comfortable way . . . . The slaves answer to the roll-call made by the heads of the respective departments. This done, the Superintendent, followed by the Manager and Assistant Manager of the Blacks, and the two medical officers, walks down the companies and minutely inspects each individual. . . . Muster over, both sexes and all ages are marched off to church. The day is then their own.... (pp. 236-237).

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