Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy
This lithograph shows a man who is lifting a mask to show his face. He wears an elaborate carnival costume or dress, while holding a fan. Belisario explained how actors "were literate street performers who recited passages from, for example, Shakespeare plays and engaged in pantomime. They content themselves annually with the public exhibition of their finery, and station themselves in a busy area of Kingston where gentlemen who may be passing are requested to decide which is the smartest dressed, presumably by tipping them." Isaac Mendes Belisario (1795–1849) was a Jamaican artist of Jewish descent and active in Kingston Jamaica around British emancipation in 1833. The image shown here, as well as others of “John-Canoes,” was drawn from life by Belisario in 1836. This lithograph is one of twelve originally published in three parts, four plates at a time. See also image Belisario05.
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).
Belisario, Isaac Mendes
Image is in the public domain. Metadata is available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.
"Koo, Koo, or Actor-Boy", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed February 18, 2020, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2309