This lithograph shows two men carrying pottery, or water jars, on their heads. The pottery in tray on the left includes (on the very top) the globular tea-pot shaped ceramic ware known in the Anglophone Caribbean as a monkey or monkey jar, used to hold water and keep it cool. This might be the earliest known illustration of the monkey in the Caribbean. The large pot being carried on the right appears to be a Jamaican version of the Spanish [olive] jar. Belisario provided a detailed description of water supplies in Jamaica, particularly Kingston, and noted that "the porous water jars in ordinary use are manufactured at potteries near the city; the two men shown here are apprentices who sally forth daily. The blue bag hanging from the neck of the taller man is a purse, every female Negro also carries a similar appendage at her waist." 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.
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; reprinted Hawaii: Kauai Fine Arts, 1998).
Belisario, Isaac Mendes
Image is in the public domain. Metadata is available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International.
"Water-Jar Sellers", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed September 18, 2020, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2313