Saturday, March 18, 2017

1600s Depictions of Native Americans - More Fantasy than Fact

Ralph Hamor visits Powhatan with a proposal By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller 1619

By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller
Engraving from book page, 1619
Plate 10 from America, Part 10

In May 1614 Ralph Hamor, the interpreter Thomas Savage, & two guides visit Powhatan's town on the Pamunkey River. In the foreground Powhatan feels Hamor's neck for "the chaine of pearle" Powhatan had given Thomas Dale to designate the English envoy. In the background at center, Hamor has an audience with Powhatan at his house, surrounded by Powhatan's guard. After presenting gifts, Hamor asks if Dale can have Powhatan's youngest daughter as "his neerest companion, wife & bedfellow." Powhatan refuses the request. Left of the house, an Englishman stands with Indian men, perhaps a representation of Hamor finding William Parker—a colonist lost for three years—among the Indians. In this image, the artist's invented details include the spear, the design & materials of the houses, & the tropical trees.