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.)
  • Masque de fer blanc que l'on fait porter aux nègres

    "White Iron Mask that One Makes Negro Wear" (caption translation). This image shows an enslaved man wearing an iron mask over his face. He was carrying a large ceramic jar on his head. Brazilian masters 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 (a visit to the country). 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. For a description of this mask in Brazil, see image ewbank3.
  • Five of the Culprits in Chains, as They Appeared on the 20th of September 1823

    This image depicts the punishment of slaves convicted of participating in the major 1823 slave revolt in Demerara, British Guiana. According to the accompanying explanations, "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.
  • Negro Heads, with Punishments for Intoxication and Dirt-Eating

    Bridgens wrote "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. Scarifications and body art were 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; Jerome 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. Bridgens' 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). Raymond's 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.
  • Como maltrata a sus negros

    "How He Mistreats his Negroes" (caption translation). Poma de Ayala described in the image how “the Spaniards abuse their African slaves.” Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala (1535–c. 1616), also known as Guamán Poma or Wamán Poma, was a Quechua nobleman from southern Peru known for chronicling the ill treatment of indigenous groups in the Andes after the Spanish conquest. He wrote this over 1,200-page manuscript between 1600 and 1615. It included 398 full-page drawings - seven of which depict enslaved Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library, Copenhagen and a complete digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available 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 also Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 (Stanford University Press, 1974), passim, for the historical context of this drawing.
  • Alcaldes: Como le castiga el cor[r]eg[id]or

    "Mayors: How the Chief Magistrate Punishes You" (caption translation). Poma de Ayala described in the image “the royal administrator orders an African slave to flog an Indian magistrate for collecting a tribute that falls two eggs short.” Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala (1535–c. 1616), also known as Guamán Poma or Wamán Poma, was a Quechua nobleman from southern Peru known for chronicling the ill treatment of indigenous groups in the Andes after the Spanish conquest. He wrote this over 1,200-page manuscript between 1600 and 1615. It included 398 full-page drawings - seven of which depict enslaved Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library, Copenhagen and a complete digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available 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 also Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 (Stanford University Press, 1974), passim, for the historical context of this drawing.
  • Negros: Como lleba en tâta paciencia

    "Negroes: How they have so much patience " (caption translation). Poma de Ayala described in the image “good blacks endure the abuses of their master with patience and the love of Christ.” Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala (1535–c. 1616), also known as Guamán Poma or Wamán Poma, was a Quechua nobleman from southern Peru known for chronicling the ill treatment of indigenous groups in the Andes after the Spanish conquest. He wrote this over 1,200-page manuscript between 1600 and 1615. It included 398 full-page drawings - seven of which depict enslaved Africans. The original manuscript is in the Danish Royal Library, Copenhagen and a complete digital facsimile, which includes the drawings, is available 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 also Frederick P. Bowser, The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524-1650 (Stanford University Press, 1974), passim, for the historical context of this drawing.
  • Untitled Image (Metal Face Mask)

    This image shows a woman wearing a mask talking to a man who is wearing a leg chain and metal collar. According to Ewbank, "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" (p. 437). Thomas Ewbank (1792–1870) was an English writer on practical mechanics. In 1845–1846, he travelled to Brazil and on his return published an account of his travels. He was then appointed United States Commissioner of Patents by President Taylor in 1849. The image is also on the Mary Evans Picture Gallery (London) website, but the location and date are erroneously given as British Guiana, 1886.
  • Untitled Image (Collar and Chain to Prevent Escape)

    This image depicts enslaved Africans carrying goods to market in heavy chians. According to Ewbank, "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" (p. 277). Thomas Ewbank (1792–1870) was an English writer on practical mechanics. In 1845–1846, he travelled to Brazil and on his return published an account of his travels. He was then appointed United States Commissioner of Patents by President Taylor in 1849.
  • Modes of Punishing Slaves

    In the accompanying text, Ellis described how "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 (p.145). William Ellis (1794–1872) was an English missionary and author, who went to Madagascar on three occasions in the 1850s.
  • Death of Capt. Ferrer, the Captain of the Amistad

    This image shows enslaved Africans revolting on the top deck of a slave ship. The lengthy commentary underneath gives details on the Amistad revolt.
  • Joseph Cinquez Addressing His Compatriots on Board the Spanish Schooner, Amistad

    Joseph Cinqué (ca. 1814–ca. 1879), also known as Sengbe Pieh, was Mende from the Upper Guinea Coast. He helped lead a revolt of many Africans on the Spanish slave ship, La Amistad. This lithograph, published as a broadside, is on display in the Chicago Historial Society museum exhibit A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln.
  • Bed-Stocks for Intoxication, etc.

    According to Bridgens, "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." 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. Bridgens' 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). Raymond's 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).
  • Chatoyer, the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St. Vincent with his five Wives

    This oil painting shows three men trekking through a forest, while one crouches to take a rest. A man in the back is carrying a heavy load. The so-called "Black Caribs" were descendants of the indigenous Caribs and fugitive black slaves from St. Vincent and neighbouring islands. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, many of slaves came from Barbados, 100 miles to the east of St. Vincent. Agostino Brunias (1730–1796), also Brunyas, Brunais, was an Italian painter. He went to London in 1758 where he became acquainted with William Young, who was appointed to a high governmental post in West Indian territories acquired by Britain from France during the Seven Year’s War. 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 and exhibited some of his paintings. 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. See Lennox Honychurch, “Chatoyer's Artist: Agostino Brunias and the Depiction of St Vincent,” Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society 50 (2004): p.104-128; Hans Huth, “Agostino Brunias, Romano,” The Connoisseur 51 (1962): p. 265-269.
  • Un chef en voyage

    "A Chief on a Trip" (caption translation). This engraving shows three men walking along a path. Benoit explained that "when a chief travels in the interior, 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." Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • Un vieillard et son esclave

    "An Elder and his Slave" (caption translation). This engraving shows two men walking along a path. 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 described a scene in which one of these people arrived at Paramaribo by canoe with two other villagers. He wrote that they "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." Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • Une marche

    "The March" (caption translation). This engraving shows a procession of maroons. Benoit described this march as "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). Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • Une femme des bosch-nègres; Espion; Bosch-Nègre

    "A Bush-Negro Woman; Spy; Bush-Negro" (caption translation). This engraving shows several people standing in front of a sugar plantation. Benoit wrote that "from time to time the Bush Negroes 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 depicted 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), Benoit wrote 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). Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • Un nègre fugitif

    "A Fugitive Negro" (caption translation). This engraving shows an escaped slave sitting in his shelter, with various utensils and goods, including rifle and canoe, by a river in the jungle. Benoit wrote that "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). Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • 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).
  • Account of a Slave Plot in Barbados, 1692

    A broadsheet, printed on both sides. Titled A Brief, but most True Relation of the late Barbarous and Bloody Plot of the Negro's in the Island of Barbados On Friday the 21 of October, 1692, this item briefly relates how the plot was uncovered, the alleged intentions of the plotters, and the sanctions imposed on them. For details on this and other slave plots in 17th cent. Barbados, see Jerome S. Handler, Slave Revolts and Conspiracies in Seventeenth Century Barbados, New West Indian Guide, vol. 56 (1982), pp. 5-43.
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