Creole Men and Women, Jamaica, 1838


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).


The artist captions this lithograph Creole Negroes. The woman (upper left) represents a vender of sausages about the streets, and is selected as an example of the inconsistency frequently observable in the Negro-class, who, while they are engaged in the meanest occupation, are still attentive to the adornment of their person. The woman is shown with an elaborate head-tie, jewelry, and a small blue purse dangling from her waist. In the upper right, the man is wearing the ordinary costume of the field worker. His Kilmarnock cap, a coarse black hat is also worn; these added to a blue checked shirt, Oznaburgh trowsers, and contoon, or cloak made of dark blue woolen-cloth called Pennistone, complete the ordinary costume. The man on the lower left is also a field-Negro, shown with similar clothing. The older woman (lower right) wears a head-tie and has chew-stick (sometimes, chaw-stick). The pearly whiteness of teeth so universal with the Negroes, Belisario writes, is in a great measure produced by the constant use of a withe, called chew-stick, which they cut into small pieces, and employ as a tooth-brush . . . it has a bitter juice, of a powerfully detergent quality. For background on the artist, see Belisario01.


Belisario, Isaac Mendes

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